A healthy mouth leads to a healthy body

LETTERS: Many people are still preparing their resolutions for the New Year. I would like to suggest that everyone add one more resolution to their list: improving oral health.

Every time we open our mouth, we risk inhalation or ingestion of harmful microorganisms and environmental contaminants through the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe.

Therefore, it is essential that we regularly clean our oral cavity to prevent the build-up of harmful compounds and bacteria.

Oral health affects our overall health. Scientific research over the past few decades has uncovered many associations between oral health and other health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

Improving oral health can have therapeutic effects. The simplest and most effective way to do so is by simply brushing our teeth regularly — twice a day for approximately two minutes each time is the recommended practice.

Importantly, we must always brush our teeth before going to bed. Which means if you get a midnight snack, you should brush your teeth again before bed.

By brushing our teeth before going to bed, we minimise the amount of acid produced by oral bacteria while we sleep, thus preserving our oral health.

We should visit a dentist at least once a year, even if we brush our teeth regularly. This is because dental plaque can accumulate on our teeth even with regular brushing and eventually calcify to produce hardened or mineralised plaque, also known as dental calculus.

Calculus cannot be removed by regular tooth brushing. Instead, we would need to visit a dentist for scaling to remove it.

Early detection of oral diseases can be extremely beneficial. Regular dental check-ups are not only important for our current oral health but also for our future wellbeing.

If "health" is going to be something we aim to improve in the new year, we should remember our oral health. A healthy mouth is the first step to a healthy body.


Senior lecturer, Faculty of Dentistry, Universiti Malaya

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

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