AIHW places spotlight on dental health

Is it about time that you went and visited your dentist? While we all dread our check-ups with 'the drill', it is important to be vigilant about maintaining good oral health.

Not only are tooth problems painful and uncomfortable, they can also be an indication of more serious ailments, according to a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

'Chronic conditions and oral health', released October 23, explores the links between conditions such as asthma, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, high blood pressure and depression, with dental health.

The report found that people with the above chronic conditions are more likely to experience toothache and oral pain, be uncomfortable with their oral appearance and avoid certain foods and have difficulty chewing.

AIHW spokesperson professor Kaye Roberts-Thomson said that those who had had a stroke may be at particular risk for poor oral health.

"Among people with a chronic condition, those who had experienced a stroke had easily the highest average number of missing teeth, and were by far most likely to have inadequate dentition and to avoid some foods due to oral problems," she explained.

These findings suggest that your general wellbeing may be closely linked to the wellbeing of your mouth, highlighting the importance of maintaining both good dental and physical health.

Most medical experts, nutritionists and exercise physiologists recommend that people follow a healthy diet, keep physically active and avoid vices such as smoking and drinking excessively.

As for dental hygiene, it is usually recommended to brush your teeth twice daily, floss regularly and try to minimise your intake of foods and beverages that will increase your risk of cavities, such as soft drinks and sweets.

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