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Oral Health 2020

Healthy mouths make better bodies, better smiles and better lives

iStock / Getty Images Plus / fizkes

Dr Nigel Carter OBE

Chief Executive, The Oral Health Foundation

The mouth is widely considered to be the window to the body, as illnesses often present first in the mouth. Developing a strong oral health routine can help protect you against harmful diseases, improve your overall physical health and lead to a better quality of life.


Avoiding dental issues like gum disease can reduce your risk of strokes, diabetes, heart disease and other serious general health conditions. Good oral health can also have a positive effect on your mental wellbeing, social life and success in the workplace.

Being proactive is key – taking actions and making positive changes before being faced with issues, rather than after.

Sadly, dental disease is far too common. One in three adults suffer from tooth decay, two in three have signs of plaque, while 3.5 million people regularly endure oral pain.

The good news is that great oral health is achievable for everyone. This is the very message our charity will be sharing during this year’s National Smile Month.

Teeth whitening, and orthodontic treatments are both acts of dentistry and not something that can be picked up in a few hours, days or months.

Starting on 18 May, the campaign that champions the importance of a healthy smile, will be encouraging everyone to take simple steps towards better oral health.

This involves twice daily brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, cutting down on sugar consumption and paying regular visits to the dentist.

It’s never too late to make positive changes to the health of your mouth. During National Smile Month, we’ll be giving the nation lots of advice and support so that we can change the landscape of oral health in the UK.

Getting treatment the right way

Gone are the days of Brits being said to have notoriously bad teeth. The vast majority of people understand the value of a great smile and more are exploring ways to enhance theirs. Worryingly, not all are going to a local dental practice to do this.

Cheap and quick treatment from alterative avenues may seem like a smart, consumer-savvy decision initially. However, the consequences of having treatment done by people who aren’t qualified can be painful, long-lasting and expensive to fix.

Teeth whitening and orthodontic treatment are both acts of dentistry and not something that can be picked up in a few hours, days or months.

It’s always best to seek any kind of cosmetic treatment through your local dental practice. This means that any risks are kept to a minimum and you can benefit from years of experience and expertise.

Taking action against mouth cancer

Another benefit of seeking dental treatment from your dentist is that they can give you a potentially life-saving check for mouth cancer.

The disease has claimed the lives of over 2,700 people in the UK over the last twelve months and many experts believe this number will continue to rise.

With that in mind, it’s extremely important to keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary in or around your mouth. The sooner mouth cancer is caught, the more likely we are to beat it.

Look out for long-lasting mouth ulcers, red or white patches, and unusual lumps and swellings. If you do spot something, it’s crucial you see a dentist, dental hygienist or dental therapist as soon as possible.

In some cases, a simple visit to a dental practice could save your life.

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