David Ho   |   March 12, 2019


On 20th of March every year, World Oral Health Day is celebrated around the world to highlight the importance of oral health for a healthy body and to motivate people to take charge and protect their dental and oral health. Dentists in Shenzhen have united to support this cause.

World Oral Health Day helps spread messages about good oral hygiene practices to adults and children alike and demonstrates the importance of optimal oral health in maintaining general health and well-being.

You can’t be healthy without good oral health – it’s one of the main pillars of general health and well-being. Oral health is multi-faceted and includes the ability to speak, smile, smell, taste, chew, swallow and can communicate a range of emotions through facial expressions with confidence and without pain or discomfort.

Each year, World Oral Health Day focuses on a specific theme and reaches out to the public, oral health professionals, and policymakers, who all have a role to play in helping reduce the burden of oral disease. Oral diseases include tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer. These are the most common and preventable noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) afflicting humankind.

Staggeringly, more than half of the world’s population (3.5 billion people) suffer from untreated oral diseases. Worryingly, untreated oral diseases have increased by 40% since 1990 and with no improvement over the last 29 years, they will continue to rise unless individuals and policymakers take action now.

Non-communicable diseases such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory diseases are closely linked to oral diseases and share modifiable risk (i.e. lifestyle) factors. These common lifestyle factors include unhealthy and high-sugar diets, tobacco use and alcohol consumption, as well as the same social determinants. The social determinants of health are the environments in the places where people live, learn, work, play and worship that affect a wide range of health risks and health outcomes. The social determinants of oral health include social, economic and physical conditions.

Sugar consumption is fuelling the obesity epidemic and is also the primary cause of tooth decay, particularly among children and adolescents. Out of all human diseases, tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease that affects up to 90% of school-age children worldwide. This is particularly disturbing because tooth decay is largely preventable. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults limit their sugar intake to 6 teaspoons and children to 3 teaspoons per day.

A regular 330 ml soft drink/soda contains almost 9 teaspoons of sugar, equivalent to 1.5x or 150% of the adult daily sugar allowance and 3 times the daily sugar allowance for children. According to the WHO, taxing sugar-sweetened beverages can lower consumption and reduce obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay. The WHO also states that a tax on sugary drinks that leads to at least a 20% increase in the retail price of sugary drinks can result In an equal reduction in the consumption of sugary drinks. Also avoid consuming excessive amounts of sugar from snacks, processed food (this excludes sugars naturally present in whole fruits and milk). To encourage this recommendation, we can all work together with schools to implement ‘water-only’ policies for drinks, ban unhealthy snacks and ensure healthy food is available on school grounds. Food labelling with easy to understand sugar icons and restricting the marketing and availability of sugar-rich foods and sugary drinks will also assist in the reduction of processed sugar consumption.

We now know that oral diseases, such as tooth decay and gum disease, are widespread and yet preventable.  Through proper self-care, regular dental check-ups and managing risk factors, good oral health and general health can be secured.

Brush your teeth for two minutes twice daily with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to help reduce your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Brush in a circular motion with either a SOFT manual or SOFT electric toothbrush.

Don’t use tobacco and limit your alcohol consumption. Tobacco and alcohol put your mouth at an increased risk for gum disease and oral cancer. Tobacco can also cause teeth staining, bad breath, premature tooth loss, and loss of taste and smell. Excessive alcohol drinking can lead to injury, 
often to the mouth and teeth, and can cause dental decay due to the acidity and high sugar content of many alcoholic drinks.

To protect your teeth and mouth whenever you play a sport that involves physical contact, moving objects or regular falls and blows wear a professionally-made mouthguard. A mouthguard is a rubber-like cover which fits exactly over the teeth and gums, cushioning and protecting them from fracture, displacement or loss. Speak to your dentist or primary healthcare provider for guidance on whether you need a mouthguard depending on the sport you play.

Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings. They can also advise on how regularly you need to book an appointment, depending on your specific needs.  Just like other major diseases, prevention, early detection and treatment are key to ensuring the best outcomes and reducing the risk for oral diseases and associated health complications.

This years World Oral Health Day theme is ACT ON MOUTH HEALTH. As there can be no health without oral health, that means if you Act on Mouth Health it will protect your mouth and it will also have a positive impact on your general health and well-being.

For more information contact Australian Dentist in South China Dr Zac Morse at Dental Bauhinia, Shenzhen
✆ Shekou 88270822  Futian 83711696