20th March -WORLD ORAL HEALTH DAY
World Oral Health Day is an international day celebrated on 20th March every year. The event is observed to spread the message of the benefits of a healthy mouth and to promote worldwide awareness of the issues around oral health. It’s the recognition as paramount of the importance of maintaining oral hygiene for everyone old and young. It is a day for people to have fun, a day that should be full of activities that make us laugh, sing and smile.
Why Oral Health is Important?
About 90% of the world’s population will suffer from oral diseases in their lifetime. They range from caries, periodontal diseases and tooth decay to oral cancer. 60% – 90% of school children worldwide have dental caries. Only 60% of the world’s population enjoys access to oral health care. Toothache is the number one reason for absenteeism from school in many countries.
Many of these diseases can be avoided with increased governmental, health association and society support and funding for prevention, detection and treatment programmes. Although the burden of oral diseases is decreasing in developed countries, gum complications are becoming more common, especially in older people. Major risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use and a diet high in fat, salt and sugar contribute to a range of chronic diseases including oral diseases.
World Oral Health Day is an initiative that hopes to contribute to increasing the number of people in the world who have no oral health issues. Additionally, World Oral Health Day offers the dental and oral health community a platform to take action and help reduce the global diseases burden. Various dental associations from several countries participate in celebrating the day.
In keeping with the practice of selecting an appropriate theme every year the theme chosen for the World Oral Health Day 2016, March 20th is :
“It all starts here. Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body”
The theme for 2022 is “ Be Proud of Your Mouth”
It aims to get everyone to recognize the impact oral health has on their overall physical health and well being.
Prevention is better than cure:
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense: poor oral health is linked to poor physical health. Your mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body and its systems. If the mouth has a chronic infection or disease, then your entire body may be indirectly or directly exposed to the bacterial infection. Your ability to eat is then compromised as also your nutrition.
Furthermore, the resources needed for your general health to function will be diverted to handle the chronic infection, weakening the overall natural protection your other systems typically enjoy. Research studies document connections between gum disease and cardiovascular ailments, resulting in an increased risk of stroke, diabetes, problem pregnancies, respiratory diseases and osteoporosis in women. What’s more, some studies indicate that those who lose all of their natural teeth may have a much shorter life span.
World Oral Health Day is celebrated all over the world on 20th March to develop activities and initiatives aimed at increasing awareness for oral health as well as the impact of oral diseases on general health, well being and economy. Initially, September 12th corresponded to the birthday of FDI founder Charles Goden was celebrated as world oral health day. This decision and celebration started in the year 2007 during FDI annual world dental congress in Dubai. However, in the year 2013 for administrative reasons, the date was shifted to March 20th every year.
It is the primary duty and social responsibility of every dentist and any other oral health care provider to raise the oral health issues so that the government, health associations and the general public can work together to achieve healthier mouths, and happier lives. We all know most oral diseases can be prevented very easily by avoiding tobacco products, opting for a healthy lifestyle and avoiding junk foods. If not, identifying these diseases at the early stage itself and aiming for primary prevention is always better as the old proverb says “prevention is better than cure”.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr Muralee Mohan Choontharu
(MDS, DNB, MOSRCSEd (UK) MBA, FPFA)
Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
Ex-Professor, A.B. Shetty Memorial Institute of Dental Sciences, Mangalore