ISBN: 978-1-100-12457-5 (PDF Version)
Cat. No.: H14-54/2009E-PDF
HC Pub.: 3310 (PDF Version)
In partnership with: Canadian Dental Association, Dental Industry Association of Canada, Dentistry Canada Fund
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This booklet has been crafted to help you better understand the link between your oral health and your overall health, to help you establish an effective oral health plan, and to ensure you have information about the risks and symptoms of oral cancer.
Dr. Peter Cooney
Chief Dental Officer of Canada
Poor oral health can affect more than just your mouth; it can affect other areas of your body as well. Increasing evidence shows a connection between oral health and general health and well-being. Periodontal disease - or disease of the gums and supporting bone - has been linked to a number of diseases including:
There is a strong link between gum disease and diabetes. People with diabetes are not only more at risk of gum disease, but gum disease can also affect the severity of their diabetes.
The same bacteria found in plaque can also be inhaled into the lungs where they may cause an infection or aggravate any existing lung condition, especially in older adults.
Studies are also examining whether pregnant women with gum disease may be at a higher risk of delivering pre term, low birth weight babies than women without gum disease.
There is new research that points to a possible connection between gum disease and heart disease and stroke.
Oral disease itself can be painful, cause tooth loss and chronic bad breath, and affects people of all ages.
So what are the most important things you can do to maintain good oral health, to reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease, and to reduce your risk of developing many of the other diseases?
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that constantly builds up, thickens and hardens into tartar. Plaque can be removed with daily brushing and flossing. Plaque that's not removed contributes to infections in the gums.
You've made a commitment to improve your oral health. You've bought new toothbrushes and floss for yourself and your family, your drinking water is treated with fluoride (when possible), you've started walking, and you're making reasonable changes to improve healthy food choices.
Now let's make sure you know the right way to look for the signs of gum disease or other potential problems in your mouth, and then let's make sure you are brushing and flossing properly.
If you already have gum disease, brushing & flossing are even more important.
Check your gums and teeth on a regular basis. Look for signs of gum disease that include:
If you have any of these symptoms, see a dental professional.
Brush your children's teeth for them until they are able to write their own name. They should then be able to brush their own teeth with your guidance and a watchful eye from time to time.
For information about caring for infants, young children or aging relatives
Your toothbrush is your most powerful weapon in the fight against plaque but it's very important to brush your teeth properly to ensure you are getting the benefits from brushing.
Plaque is soft and easily removed so choose a soft toothbrush.
Simply brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing to remove plaque between your teeth daily can make a real difference.
Fluoride is a natural element that is found in soil, water (both fresh and salt) and in various foods. It has a positive effect on oral health by making the tooth stronger and more resistant to decay. Fluoride can also prevent or even reverse tooth decay that has already started.
For more information on fluoride and human health
The area between your teeth is most likely where plaque will accumulate so flossing is essential. You will want to floss your teeth at least once a day - perhaps first thing in the morning, or just before going to bed.
Learning to floss properly might take some time and patience. But once you've mastered it, it takes just minutes a day.
An antimicrobial mouth rinse will reduce the bacteria in your mouth.
See a dental care professional regularly to have your teeth and gums checked. This professional will clean your teeth to remove tartar build-up.
Oral cancer is any abnormal growth and spread of cells in the mouth or oral cavity, including:
The lining of the mouth protects the tissues and organs that make up the oral cavity. It is exposed to everything you eat, drink and breathe.
As part of your oral health regime, check the inside of your mouth for these potential signs and symptoms:
If you notice any of these signs and symptoms in your mouth, ask for an oral cancer screening at your dental or medical clinic.
Early detection of oral cancer can greatly increase the success of treatment and reduce the likelihood that the cancer would spread to other parts of the body.
There are many factors that can increase your risk of developing oral cancer. You are at greater risk if:
More importantly, oral cancer is a preventable disease. Make a commitment to reduce your risk today:
HPV ...or Human Papillomavirus infects the skin and mucous membranes of humans and is transmitted through sexual contact