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World Oral Health Day: Keep your mouth healthy for overall well-being

Gum disease -- a leading cause of tooth loss -- is linked to cognitive decline.

On the occasion of World Oral Health Day today, we look at the effect that oral health can have on your overall well-being.

It is important to practice proper oral hygiene. Whether you are a child or an adult, if you have a healthy mouth, you will be able to enjoy better social interaction and also feel good about yourself. It enables you to nourish your body and any disorder in any part of the body first manifest itself in your mouth. But many people are unaware of this fact and they don't maintain good oral hygiene. This affects oral health and puts them at risk of many health concerns. Today is World Oral Health Day. Organized by FDI World Dental Federation every year on March 20 since 2007, this day is the largest global awareness campaign on oral health. The theme this year is 'Say Ahh: Unite for Mouth Health'.

World Oral Health Day was originally celebrated on September 12, which is the birth anniversary of FDI founder Dr Charles Godon. But, in 2013 the date was changed to 20 March to avoid conflict with the FDI World Dental Congress that takes place in September.

On the occasion of World Oral Health Day today, let us see why oral health is absolutely essential for overall well-being. It is important to practice proper oral hygiene. The bacteria in your mouth can cause infections in other parts of the body. Your mouth is the beginning of your digestive and respiratory tracts. If there are bad bacteria in your mouth, it can cause disease. But good oral hygiene can bring down your risk of these diseases. This can affect health because saliva washes away food you eat and neutralises the acids that are produced by oral bacteria. This helps your body to protect you from microbes that multiply and cause diseases.

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Since World Oral Health Day is all about raising awareness on oral health, let us take a look at a few diseases that may arise as a result of bad oral health.

Endocarditis

This is an infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves. It happens when bacteria or germs from another part of your body, reach your heart via the bloodstream.

Cardiovascular disease

Many experts believe that heart disease, blocked arteries and even stroke may be due to inflammation and infections caused by oral bacteria.

Pregnancy and birth complications

The oral condition, periodontitis, may cause premature birth and low birth weight.

Pneumonia

If you have bad oral hygiene, the bacteria in your mouth enter your lungs. This may lead to pneumonia and respiratory diseases.

Medications and oral health

At the same time, medications for certain conditions can also have an impact on oral health. Certain drugs are known to reduce saliva flow and alter balance of oral microorganisms. Anti-histamines, pain-killers, diuretics and antidepressants Oral conditions like periodontal disease can cause major health issues like cancer and heart diseases. If you take care of your oral health, you will be doing yourself a favour by significantly reducing your risk of chronic illnesses.

Read the signs

Different oral conditions can indicate different health issues. An ulcer, a lesion or blood in your gums can point at certain infections and disorders.

If you have lesions in your mouth, it may be an early sign of HIV infection. But this does not mean that all lesions indicate HIV. Your dentist will clear the air.

Aphthous ulcers may indicate Coeliac disease or Crohn's disease.

Pale, bleeding gums is often the result of blood disorders.

If you experience any bone loss in the lower jaw, you may be in the early stages of skeletal osteoporosis.

Any changes in the appearance of your teeth may indicate the eating disorders bulimia or anorexia.

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