As we enter the final week of National Smile Month 2020, Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub is urging local people to take care of their oral health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
An initiative of Oral Health Foundation, National Smile Month is the UK’s largest oral health campaign, raising the awareness of good oral hygiene through encouraging children and adults of all ages to look after their teeth to maintain a white and healthy smile.
Running from 18 May to 18 June, the campaign normally involves a range of special events taking place across the country’s schools and communities. This year’s promotion, however, has been entirely digital due to the COVID-19 emergency, with a variety of online activities including competitions and home schooling resources available on the National Smith Month website.
With routine dental appointments and treatment postponed in Scotland at present, it is more important than ever for individuals and families to take care of their oral health. Albert Yeung, Consultant in Dental Public Health at NHS Lanarkshire, commented:
“During this prolonged period of lockdown, we might all find ourselves eating and snacking more often.
“Snacking can be a good part of a balanced diet, but it can also lead to us consuming more energy, sugar, fat or salt than we need. We can all look after our oral health by following a few simple tips.
“In particular, it’s important to brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss between your teeth and cut down on the amount of sugar you eat and drink.
“Although routine appointments are postponed just now, if you have a dental problem you can still telephone your dentist as normal. They will offer advice and arrange treatment, if needed.
“Parents naturally want their children to have fun, eat well and understand the importance of having and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle.
“Making sure that you look after your oral health is part of keeping your overall health in tip top condition. For children, it’s never too early to learn about the importance of great oral health and how to achieve it.
“That’s why Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub and Cumbernauld Family Hub are fully behind National Smile Month. We believe that it’s a great campaign for helping to educate young children on the importance of looking after their teeth.
“Evidence suggests that preventing dental problems can lower the chances of certain health risks in the future, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, lung disease and giving birth to a premature or low-birth-weight baby.
“Therefore, National Smile Month is the perfect time to evaluate your oral health, improve your routine and help others around in your household do the same.”
It is known that 39% of adults in the UK don’t go to the dentist regularly, whilst almost two in three adults have visible plaque on their teeth.
There are over 8,300 new cases of mouth cancer each year in the UK, many of which are preventable through simple daily measures to protect your oral health.
If you or someone you know has developed some bad habits, it’s never too late to make a positive change and improve your oral health and hygiene. In this respect, the below tips are offered by Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub.
TAKING CARE OF YOUR ORAL HEALTH
Tips on Brushing Your Teeth…
It is best to brush your teeth last thing at night, before you go to bed. You should also brush them at one other point during the day.
You should brush your teeth for two minutes. That’s all it takes to brush your teeth effectively. Whether you use a manual toothbrush or an electric one, it’s important that you take the time to cover the surfaces of your teeth and all areas of your mouth.
Remember to spit out after brushing and do not rinse your mouth with water. This helps the fluoride stay on your teeth longer.
It is advisable to change your toothbrush, or toothbrush head (for electric users), every two or three months, or sooner if the filaments become worn. Everybody older than three-years-old should use a toothpaste with between 1350ppm to 1500ppm of fluoride. This is enough to help strengthen your teeth and protect you from tooth decay.
Tips on Flossing…
You can clean between your teeth with an ‘interdental’ brush or dental floss. Cleaning in between your teeth removes plaque and bits of food from between your teeth and under your gumline, areas a toothbrush can’t reach.
When flossing or using interdental brushes, keep to a regular pattern and remember not to miss any teeth. It helps to look in the mirror. Don’t forget the backs of your last teeth. It is also very important to clean around the edges of any crowns, bridges or implants.
You should clean between your teeth at least once a day. Your dental team can show you how to clean between your teeth properly.
Tips on Using Mouthwash…
A fluoride mouthwash can help prevent tooth decay. Your dental team may recommend an antibacterial mouthwash to help control plaque and reduce gum disease.
If you find that you are regularly using a mouthwash just to freshen your breath see your dental team, because bad breath can be a sign of unhealthy teeth and gums or of poor general health.
Tips on Eating…
What we eat can have a big influence on our oral health. Snacking every now and again may seem harmless but can actually do more damage than you think, particularly if you are having sugary foods and drinks.
Many of us are guilty of regularly skipping meals and eating sugary snacks instead. It’s far better for our teeth and general health if we eat three meals a day instead of having snacks to get through the day. Try and maintain a healthy balanced diet and avoid sugar where you can.
All sugars can cause tooth decay. Sugar can come in many forms. Usually ingredients ending in ‘ose’ are sugars, for example: sucrose, fructose and glucose are just three types. These are examples of sugars that can all damage your teeth.
Many processed foods have sugar in them, and the higher up it appears in the list of ingredients, the more sugar there is in the product. Always read the list of ingredients on the labels when you are food shopping.
When you are reading the labels remember that ‘no added sugar’ does not necessarily mean that the product is sugar free. It simply means that no extra sugar has been added. These products may contain sugars such as those listed above, or the sugars may be listed as ‘carbohydrates’.
Tips on Drinking…
Still water and milk are the healthiest drinks for teeth. Diluted sugar-free fruit drinks are the safest alternative to water and milk. If you make these, be sure that the drink is diluted one-part fruit drink to 10-parts water.
Fizzy drinks can increase the risk of dental problems. The sugar of both normal and diet fizzy drinks can dissolve the enamel on the teeth (dental erosion). The risk is higher when you have these drinks between meals. If you drink fruit juices, keep them to meal times.
Drinking too much alcohol, meanwhile, has been linked to an array of oral health problems including mouth cancer, tooth decay and tooth erosion.
Tips on Smoking…
Stopping smoking reduces the risk of developing gum disease and mouth cancer, and improves a person’s overall oral health. It is very important for smokers to visit their dentist regularly to keep their teeth and gums healthy. It is also critical for smokers to have regular oral cancer checks.
Smokers are up to six times more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers because smoking dampens the body’s immune system and makes it harder for it to fight back against the disease.
Because gum disease is often painless until discovered by a dentist, many smokers may be unaware of the impact their smoking is having on their oral health.
One of the easiest ways in which Cumbernauld organisations can support National Smith Month 2020 is to download the campaign’s free online resources. These include posters, digital guides for better oral health, oral health home schooling support, podcasts and social media posts.
For more information on National Smile Month 2020 and improving your oral health, visit www.nationalsmilemonth.org. Campaign information and updates can also be obtained via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.