DENTAL educators say oral health is about more than watching our mouths – what we eat and drink has a big impact on our general health and well-being.
Ballarat Health Services public dental clinical coordinator Jodie Robinson said most people know not looking after your teeth can risk getting a hole, pain, or feeling judged for a disappointing smile. But she said it was also important to note the bigger picture, like higher risks for chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
“The way we live our lives, how quickly we can get processed foods and how frequently we eat also has a great impact on oral health,” Ms Robinson said. “It’s not just about how much sugar we eat. Probably one of the biggest message we do when we’re sitting with our clients is we talk about how frequently they consume ‘good’ foods and ‘bad’ foods and how this impacts on oral health as well.
“It’s all about moderation, whether we’re talking about oral health or general health.”
Australian Dental Health Week is drawing attention to how prevention is better than treatment, for oral health and the wider health impact.
Ms Robinson said one of the biggest concerns was how preventable oral disease is, yet only 50 per cent of Australians brush day and night. She said no matter what you eat, it was about counteracting what you eat also by flossing once a day, rinsing out with water and using toothpaste with fluoride.
BHS operate an oral health education chair at the public dental clinic in Sebastopol. Educators work with patients one-on-one on the skills to prevent oral disease with lifestyle and oral hygiene habits. Almost 1700 patients say in the chair in the clinic in the past financial year. BHS also does dental education outreach in the community, like schools and kindergartens.
Ms Robinson said it was important for children to try and form good prevention habits early. And then the dentist might not always seem such a scary place.
“Sometimes when you’re in pain and have been dealing with pain for a long period of time it can be really difficult to walk into a situation you don’t understand,” Ms Robinson said. “But if we can talk about oral heath then we can also break down those myths about coming to the dentist.”