Do you believe that oral health and overall well-being are two different entities? If you do, you are not alone. The Oral Health Advisory Panel (OHAP) of Australia confirms that over 82% of Australians who suffer asthma and 64% of Australians who suffer from sleep apnoea are unaware that their condition can be directly linked to their oral health. The reverse can also be true, as in if you suffer from diabetes or various cardiovascular illness, amongst other illnesses, your condition can be impacting on your oral health.

The study which was commissioned by OHAP also highlighted some alarming results. The most interesting was that 25-34-year-olds were the age group who were the most unfamiliar with the links between oral health and general health. What is so alarming about this is that this age bracket was also identified as the group which had the most ‘seriously compromised health, with almost half experiencing either asthma, diabetes and/or sleep apnoea’*.

Other risk factors include some prescription and over the counter medications which can negatively impact your oral health. This was highlighted with the discovery of 51% of Australians who suffer from persistent dry mouth being unaware that their medication is the cause of their oral condition.

Whilst all this information is alarming thus far, OHAP did discover that there seems to be enlightenment happening as Australians get older. Their study shows that by the time Australians reach 49 years of age, they are gaining better general and oral health. Could this be the wisdom gained with age? Or is it because this age group has gained more time to take better care of themselves? Nonetheless, if you are in the younger age bracket, there are steps which can be taken to avoid becoming a negative statistic.

The obvious first steps are seemingly easy: improve your diet with more fruits and vegetables, and get more exercise to lower your risk of obesity and diabetes; maintain a good oral health routine (which includes twice daily brushing, flossing and regular dental check-ups) to avoid cavities, gum disease and other common health problems. The other lifestyles changes are a little more complicated:

1. Quit smoking – There are absolutely no positive impacts to be gained from smoking. However, this is a raft of negative impacts including increased risk of lung disease, staining and discolouration of your teeth, teeth loss, bone shrinkage and the inhibiting of the production of saliva (which is essential for maintaining good oral health);

2. Reduce your alcohol intake – From a dental perspective, alcohol is troublesome due to its high sugar and acidity levels. Further, did you know that excessive alcohol can also lead to a heightened risk of developing oral cancer? Then there are general well-being concerns which alcohol impose including susceptibility to mental illness, obesity, and hangovers.

3. Try to reduce your stress – Stress can lead to mouth ulcers, cold sores, grinding and teeth clenching. Stress also exacerbates your judgement on things such as healthy food choices and dental hygiene routines.

Other more serious conditions such as sleep apnoea, snoring and asthma can also be eradicated or lessened by a trip to the dentist. Dentists can identify potential jaw and palate problems which may be causing these conditions. These problems can then be treated with devices such as Myobrace.

So why not book an appointment with your closest DentalCareXtra practice so we can help you take the first step toward improved overall health by bettering your dental health first?

References: Australian Dental Association [online], (2017). Lifestyle Risks.
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*Bite Magazine [online], (2017). Australians unaware of the link between serious health conditions and oral health.
Retrieved from: unaware-link-serious-health-conditions-oral-health/

Oral Health Advisory Panel [online], (2017). OHAP Media Alert – Australians with serious conditions aware of link to poor oral health.
Retrieved from: unaware-of-links-to-poor-oral-health/