With the prospect of a filling or something more sinister, not to mention the cost, a visit to the dentist can feel more like a kick in the teeth than the critically important health check it is.
However as the Australian Dental Association’s (ADA) Dental Health Week gains momentum this week, Australians are being encouraged to recognise the vital connection between oral health and overall well-being after research revealed 58 per cent of people delay visiting the dentist.
While straight teeth and a gleaming smile might not be at the top of many people’s priority lists, Bupa Dental Head Dentist, Cathryn Madden states that a visit to the dentist goes beyond just a simple clean and cavity search. It also serves as a great opportunity to look for signs of oral cancer, oral infections and other conditions that can have a significant impact on a person’s health if not addressed early.
Dental Health Week’s “Mind, Body, Mouth. It’s all connected” slogan reinforces this connection between oral and overall health while highlighting the importance of a good oral hygiene routine, eating healthy, and visiting a dental professional on a regular basis.
While Bupa research shows that obstacles such as lack of motivation, time pressures, fear, cost, and access to dental services are the main drivers for people to avoid a visit to the dentist’s office, Aussies are urged to be proactive when it comes to ensuring regular dental check-ups.
It’s #DentalHealthWeek! Held 7th to the 13th of August, this year’s campaign is #MindBodyMouth #ItsAllConnected – looking at the link between dental health and general health and wellbeing.https://t.co/qA7rmSQmMD
— Australian Dental Association (@AUS_Dental) August 7, 2023
According to Teeth.org there is also growing evidence that oral inflammatory diseases have an impact on systemic health conditions. Severe gum disease in the mouth can lead to destruction of the supporting structures of teeth causing loss of gums and bone. It has also been associated with cardiovascular disease, lung conditions, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.
Advisory Services Manager, Engagement & Advocacy Executive, Dr Sarah Raphael from the Australian Dental Association NSW Branch stressed that “dental health is important throughout the lifespan, from babies to seniors!” but that for seniors it is crucial to avoid negative health impacts.
Raphael maintained that keeping good dental health in your senior years was about keeping things simple at the bathroom sink. She recommended performing oral hygiene twice a day, toothbrushing with fluoride toothpaste, cleaning dentures and leaving them out at night, eating a low-sugar diet and staying well hydrated with tap water.
As with all things health-related, Rapahel stresses that prevention is better than cure and that regular dentist visits are paramount to keeping potential problems at bay while a dental care plan must be implemented for those unable to look after themselves.