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Is your practice raising awareness of oral health risks?

Educating the public and raising awareness of the various lifestyle choices that could pose a risk to oral health is an important responsibility for dental practices.

There are many common habits that can have an impact on the health of people’s teeth, gums and mouths, but perhaps the most damaging of all is smoking.

One of the most immediate and noticeable impacts of smoking is a yellowing of the teeth, which is caused by the amount of nicotine and tar contained in tobacco.

Other effects include a higher risk of gum disease as a result of increased bacterial plaque and also a danger of mouth cancer, as well as the more publicised threats of lung and throat cancer.

Over-consumption of alcohol can also increase a person’s likelihood of experiencing oral health problems.

Recent research published in the journal Microbiome indicated that drinking too much alcohol could negatively affect the balance of microbes in the mouth, raising the risk of conditions including cancer.

Jiyoung Ahn, epidemiologist at the New York University School of Medicine, told Time magazine: “We know that alcohol is a risk factor for many other diseases. This is another scientific rationale, or justification, that heavy drinking is not recommended.

“We should avoid heavy drinking in terms of maintaining a healthy microbiome.”

There are many other well-known dangers to oral health, such as excessive consumption of sugary foods and drinks, which is a particular problem for children.

The British Dental Association recently lent its support to a campaign to ban the sale of energy drinks to under-16s, warning that these products are fuelling a tooth decay “crisis” among children and young people.

Dental practices can do their part in the ongoing mission to protect oral health by using well-designed posters to engage and inform patients.

Posters can be very effective in encouraging parents to book appointments for their children and raising awareness about dental hygiene.

Image: BowdenImages/iStock

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