Celebrating World Oral Health Day 2024

Celebrating World Oral Health Day 2024

Today, we are celebrating World Oral Health Day 2024, which focuses on the theme ‘A Happy Mouth is a Happy Body’. We hear from people in dentistry about why it is so important.

Dr Nigel Carter, Oral Health Foundation

Organised by the FDI World Dental Federation, the campaign is asking frontline healthcare workers to use the day to amplify what you are doing already to help individuals make informed decisions, because oral health is health. 

The Oral Health Foundation believes World Oral Health Day has an important role to play in addressing global oral health demands. The campaign acts to eradicate dental disease and improve life quality. As we get closer to this year’s event, we urge dental professionals to support the initiative by delivering trusted educational messages to patients and influencing public health policy.

Key messages

This year, World Oral Health Day emphasises two pivotal messages: ‘A healthy mouth plays a significant role in protecting overall health’ and ‘prevention is key’. Oral health is not just about the mouth but is intrinsically linked to systemic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, strokes, respiratory issues and even dementia.

While this has been well established amongst the profession for years, these messages are still not getting through to patients. By understanding that oral health is linked to overall health, we can drive patients’ attitudes, especially compliance towards oral care routines.

The campaign is crucially looking at prevention of oral diseases. As a truly inadequate NHS dental contract continues to impact services, the need for patients to practice strong oral health routines at home becomes of much greater importance. 

Please help is urge patients to maintain an effective daily oral hygiene routine, and monitor their consumption of sugar, alcohol, and tobacco – all significant risk factors for dental diseases across all demographics and age groups. Your role in this endeavour is invaluable.

Prevention isn’t solely the patient’s duty – it also falls under the purview of governmental bodies and policymakers to safeguard patients’ health. For World Oral Health Day, please join us in targeting politicians with pressure to support preventive oral health policies such as community water fluoridation and expansions to the soft drinks levy. 

‘Brush and Boogie’

Toothie, the beloved FDI’s mascot is launching a #BrushandBoogie movement to get people to have more fun while brushing their teeth.

Post a video or photo of you brushing your teeth while you dance to your favourite tune. This could be quick win as a practice activity – get your colleagues involved and upload it to your social channels. Challenge your patients to do the same while tagging @worldoralhealthday and ToothieBeaver.

A poster giving instructions of how patients can take part in this brushing activity can be downloaded on the World Oral Health Day website. Print it off and display it in your waiting rooms, post it on your socials.

On the campaign website you will also be able to access a range of other posters, activity sheets, advocacy cards, fact sheets and videos. All to share with your patients and local community. If you have particularly strong links to local schools, it might also be worth sending links to these resources with them to spearhead classroom oral health activities.

Happy Mouth Wall

Another way that you can get involved as a dental practice is by going online to create your own personalised posters or social media cards. You can go to www.worldoralhealthday.org/happymouth-tool to access this tool.

Here you can select your message, format, colour, and photograph to build your resource.

You can post this to your social media which can help you grow your presence online and positively influence your community. Don’t forget to use #WOHD24 and #HappyMouth is your posts.

Taking part in other activities as well as can mean that you are eligible to win a World Oral Health Day Award. Plenty of resources are available on their website which can help you take part.

No matter how you are planning on taking part this year, we hope you enjoy your World Oral Health Day.

Neil Sikka, Bupa Dental Care

As a practising dentist with over 30 years of experience, Neil has seen first-hand the profound impact oral health has on people’s lives beyond a nice smile.

Oral health is essential to overall wellbeing

As the mouth is the gateway to your entire body health, poor oral care can lead to several problems, such as gum disease linked to heart issues, and difficulty eating, which can impact nutrition.

However, good dental hygiene can significantly reduce the risk of cavities, gingivitis, periodontitis, and other dental problems, reducing people’s risk of secondary problems caused by poor oral health, such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, and cancer.

That’s why promoting good oral health is a cornerstone of preventive healthcare that benefits everyone, particularly children, as it allows their newly developing adult teeth to come in strong and healthy.

The mouth has traditionally been treated separately from the rest of the body, and as dental professionals, we need to re-educate and drive awareness of the impact of poor oral health. At Bupa, we’re in a unique position to help address this. With greater integration of oral and general healthcare, and leading medical specialists, we’re exploring innovative approaches to prevent and treat health issues to deliver the best outcomes for our patients and dental insurance customers.

Oral health inspires confidence and social interaction

A healthy smile allows you to smile freely without worry, and it also means you can speak, taste, chew and convey emotions through facial expressions without pain or discomfort. It can positively impact your interactions at work, in social settings, and throughout daily life, from eating, sleeping, and functioning effectively.

So, when someone is self-conscious about their smile due to pain, discomfort, missing teeth, or other dental issues, it can significantly disrupt all aspects of their life. They may withdraw socially, leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can impact on their overall mental wellbeing.

Oral health empowers people

Neil’s experience supporting outreach initiatives and volunteering with Dentaid to treat those experiencing homelessness and vulnerability has solidified his belief in the transformative power of oral health.

He remembers treating a patient living in a shelter who had neglected her dental health for years due to circumstances. After treating her at the mobile clinic, her smile returned, not just cosmetically but with a newfound confidence that visibly changed her interactions with others. These experiences fuel his passion for ensuring everyone can access proper dental care and reducing health inequalities.

Whether we encourage regular dental check-ups, promote good brushing and flossing habits, suggest monthly plans to make ongoing care more manageable, or advocate for wider access to dental care through charities, let’s work together to ensure everyone can experience the benefits of good oral health.

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