What constitutes good oral health?

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WORLD Oral Health Day (WOHD), celebrated today, was launched by FDI World Dental Federation (FDI) to raise global awareness on the prevention and control of oral disease and this year they released the results from a survey carried out in 12 countries, revealing what people around the world believe to be good oral health practices.

The survey was carried out in the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, India and Egypt and has exposed a significant disparity between what people believe to be good oral health practices, versus what they actually do.

Eight of the countries reported that 50 percent or more of the people surveyed think it is important to brush your teeth straight after every main meal. Brazil, Mexico, Egypt and Poland were the worst offenders of this incorrect oral health practice (84 per cent, 81 per cent, 62 per cent and 60 per cent respectively). FDI recommends waiting at least 30 minutes after eating to brush your teeth to avoid weakening tooth enamel.

‘These survey results highlight an alarming discrepancy between knowledge and actual good oral health practices,’ said Dr Patrick Hescot, FDI President. ‘We want everyone to take control of their oral health this World Oral Health Day and understand that by adopting good oral hygiene habits, avoiding risk factors and having a regular dental check-up, they can help protect their mouths. A healthy mouth allows us to speak, smile, smell, taste, touch, chew, swallow and convey a range of emotions with confidence and without pain, discomfort and disease. Good oral health matters and translates to a better quality of life.’
The majority of countries surveyed incorrectly believe that rinsing the mouth out with water after brushing is important; Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, India and Canada were found to practice this myth the most (77 per cent, 75 per cent, 73 per cent, 67 per cent and 67 per cent respectively). It is actually recommended not to rinse with water straight after brushing to allow maximum exposure to fluoride, which will optimize the preventative effects.

Nearly half the population surveyed in India, South Africa, Brazil and Poland (52 per cent, 49 per cent, 48 per cent and 42 per cent respectively), felt that drinking fruit juice rather than fizzy drinks was important for good oral health. Fruit juice however, can also be high in sugar which can cause tooth decay. FDI recommends keeping consumption of sugary drinks to a minimum as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Dr Edoardo Cavalle, WOHD Task Team Chair, stated ‘Understanding good oral health practices and adopting them early in life, will help to maintain optimal oral health into old age and ensure you live a long life free from physical pain and often emotional suffering caused by oral disease.’

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