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Something to chew on - A beautiful smile starts with a healthy mouth

Apr 18, 2012
A beautiful smile can light up a room, ease a tense situation and even warm the hearts of an audience. More importantly, a healthy mouth can significantly improve your quality of life by having a direct and profound impact on your overall health. That’s something to chew on.

A beautiful smile can light up a room, ease a tense situation and even warm the hearts of an audience. More importantly, a healthy mouth can significantly improve your quality of life by having a direct and profound impact on your overall health. That’s something to chew on.

Without good oral health you can develop a wide variety of dental problems which puts you at risk for further health issues. For example, people who develop gum disease have a significantly greater risk for developing other health problems, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory diseases and preterm delivery of low-birth weight babies.

Poor oral health can also affect your quality of life causing unnecessary pain and infection, impacting self-esteem and appearance and affecting sleep. For children and youth, these symptoms can make it hard to concentrate at school, affecting performance.

Good oral health starts with prevention. This includes brushing your teeth twice a day, using dental floss and visiting the dentist and dental hygienist regularly. Drinking water that is fluoridated provides added protection against cavities.

Healthy habits, such as avoiding tobacco and eating nutritious foods are also important for good oral health. Tobacco use can cause oral and dental disease, including oral cancer, while eating healthy helps build strong teeth and gums that can resist disease and promote healing.

We can reduce dental problems later in life by instilling good oral health habits in our children.  The most important thing we can do for children is to help with brushing and promote its importance. Once children are able to brush their own teeth, ensure they brush at least twice a day for two full minutes each time.

Fluoride is another safe and effective way to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride hardens the tooth enamel to protect against cavities and prevents bacteria from causing tooth decay. You can get fluoride from toothpaste or as a treatment when you visit the dentist. Many communities in Ontario also add fluoride to their water supply. In that way, everyone can get the benefit of fluoride to help prevent tooth decay.

Tooth decay is most common among low-income families in Simcoe Muskoka, many of whom do not have access to a dentist or dental coverage. Children and youth up to the age of 18 who do not have a dental plan and cannot afford a dentist can receive treatment for urgent dental cavities and other serious problems from the health unit’s Oral Health team through the Children in Need of Treatment (CINOT) program.

Additionally, Healthy Smiles Ontario provides preventative and early diagnosis and treatment for children 17 and under from families with a net income of $20,000 or less who do not have access to any form of dental coverage.

In Simcoe Muskoka, these services can be accessed through a mobile dental unit serving eight communities, a dental clinic at 80 Bradford Street in Barrie, or through participating dentists and dental hygienists.

Keeping healthy teeth is an important part of maintaining lifelong overall health and well-being. For more information about your oral health or the oral health programs offered by the health unit, call Your Health Connection at 705- 721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday or check www.simcoemuskokahealth.org.

 

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Dr. Gardner is Simcoe Muskoka’s medical officer of health.


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