What your teeth say about your health

Regular dental check-ups could reveal a lot more about your health than just problems relating to your teeth.

What your teeth say about your health

A white smile doesn’t only indicate healthy teeth and gums; your dental health also plays a significant role in how confident you feel. If you’re self-conscious about your smile, you’re not going to feel good when interacting with others.

We’re taught from an early age that good oral hygiene is important to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, but many people fear the dentist, not knowing that regular dental check-ups could reveal a lot more than just problems relating to your teeth. In South Africa, gum disease ranks second only to the common cold in terms of prevalence, with an estimated 90% of South Africans experiencing the problem at some point.

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What’s more, globally, there is a 70% increase in the risk of developing heart disease for those with poor oral hygiene, compared to those who brush their teeth twice a day. Gum disease has been linked to coronary heart disease, adverse pregnancy outcomes and diabetes. And new research also shows that women with gum disease find it harder to conceive.

Starting early

When it comes to your child’s health, what’s the main thing you focus on?

Some parents don’t understand the relationship between oral hygiene and other health conditions. They also underestimate the importance of looking after their children’s milk teeth. Caring for your child’s teeth is hard work, but it is the only way to ensure a healthy mouth. Parents sometimes think that because children have milk teeth they are dispensable, but the bad habits children learn in early life affect them later, so their permanent teeth have similar problems.

ALSO SEE: 5 toddler teeth myths busted

Important facts to remember for parents:

  • A child’s primary teeth, called “baby teeth”, are as important as permanent teeth. Primary teeth help children chew and speak, and hold spaces in the jaw for permanent teeth that are developing under the gums. They are also important for the proper growth of the face and jaw.
  • Dental caries (tooth decay) is the most common oral disease in children under five years of age, and although preventable, still affects many children.
  • By the time children are six years old, many of them have experienced some form of tooth decay.
  • Sugars are the main cause of tooth decay (holes in your teeth). This is why you should limit your child’s intake of sugar-filled items. Did you know that even fruit juice can contribute to tooth decay because of its high concentration of acids and sugars?
  • According to the World Dental Federation, oral diseases affect 3.9 million people worldwide, with between 60% and 90% of children globally suffering from tooth decay.

Tooth decay is 100% preventable. Keeping your mouth healthy only takes a few simple steps a day and reduces risk factors for heart disease and stroke, diabetes, and other common ailments. Remember oral hygiene is not only about having fresh breath and a bright smile – it’s also directly linked to your health. So go on – get brushing!


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