World Oral Health Day 2013 – Why The Mouth Is A Gateway To Your Body

Oral health is critical to our well-being and yet too many of us take it for granted. Despite decades worth of research linking oral health to systemic health, far too many people remain unaware of the importance in maintaining good oral health. A quick search on the internet reveals millions of articles discussing the link between gum disease and major chronic diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, pre-diabetes, arthritis, pre-term births etc. Gum disease is the most prevalent human infection with little progress being made.

No one would walk around with with chronically bleeding fingernails or pus-filled scabs on their arms, but because gums are hidden from view, most people will ignore their symptoms until it is too late and much damage has been done.  Why is this? Studies have demonstrated the general unwillingness to address chronic gum disease when up to 70% of patients diagnosed with gum disease failed to get treatment due primarily to cost and fear of pain. (It can be assumed that 100% of those undiagnosed are not seeking treatment and this may represent about half of the population).

With such staggering numbers, this must be seen as a public health crisis and treated as such.  What this clearly implies is that there is an urgent need for:

1) More discussions between patients and dental clinicians

2) More public awareness campaigns to promote early prevention and intervention to create a society wide change in behaviour

3) Widespread adoption of less-invasive, cost effective non-antibiotic technologies that can eliminate the harmful gram-negative pathogens associated with gum disease

The mouth is the gateway to the body. Good oral health should be promoted by all medical and dental practitioners as an early indicator of overall systemic health.

Family doctors, as well as dental clinicians, should be reinforcing good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits, as well as endorsing early prevention of gum disease.

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