Public ignorant of oral health hazards

A shocking number of Brits do not realise the consequences of poor oral health, new research reveals.

Dementia topped the poll, as 90% of people were unaware it could potentially be linked to poor oral health.

A further four in five people were unaware poor oral health could potentially be linked pneumonia (83%) and colon cancer (82%) while a similar figure (79%) thought strokes could not result from poor oral health. Only heart problems registered with those questioned, as two in five people (40%) thought they could be brought on by poor oral health.

In the last two years poor oral health has been linked to a number of conditions, some of which are life-threatening. Breast cancer, strokes, diabetes, hospital-acquired infections, erectile dysfunction, pneumonia, bowel cancer, endocarditis, oral cancer, dementia, pancreatic cancer, psoriasis and pregnancy complications have all been associated with varying degrees of poor oral health. Yet the survey appears to suggest as a nation we appear to be completely oblivious to these links.

More than 2,000 people were questioned as part of the nation’s annual reminder about the importance of oral health, National Smile Month.

The campaign, which runs until 20 June, encourages everyone to brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, cut down on how often they have sugary foods and drinks and to visit their dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.

Chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, said: ‘The survey results are the clearest indication yet that the public is unaware of just how important their oral health is.

‘Gum disease in particular has been associated with serious health issues. It affects most people at some point in their lives, so there is no excuse for ignoring good dental hygiene. The good news is that poor oral health is nearly always preventable, so it is important that people make caring for their teeth a top priority. Regular visits to the dentist, as often as they recommend, are really important to give the dentist a chance to assess your oral health and, if necessary, give your teeth a scale and polish.

‘Doing this alone won’t help your oral health. That’s why I’d also encourage a simple routine of brushing teeth, twice a day for two minutes using a fluoride toothpaste, which will help to remove plaque – the cause of gum disease. It is also important to clean in between teeth using interdental brushes or floss.’

National Smile Month is being supported by a record number of sponsors in 2013 including Extra, Listerine, Oral-B, Philips, Bupa, Invisalign, NUK, Denplan and Lloyds Pharmacy.

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