Open Wide. Time to Consider the Importance of Oral Health.

July 1, 2021

International Kissing Day is held each year on the 6th of July, it originated in the UK and then became adopted worldwide in the early 2000s. You may wonder what the idea behind it is, apparently it is to celebrate the simple pleasures of a kiss for kissing’s sake rather than as a greeting or as a prelude to anything else!

We thought we’d take it as the perfect opportunity to have a look at oral health. Something that is often forgotten beyond brushing your teeth.

Tooth decay may be the most obvious thing we think of when we consider oral health and it is something that can affect everyone. According to the Oral Health Foundation, tooth decay is the number one reason for childhood hospital admissions in the UK and the majority of this decay is the result of too much sugar in the diet. Excessive consumption of fizzy drinks are also a major factor. The Oral Health Foundation quote Public Health England (PHE) statistics (6th April 2018) saying that a child in England has a rotten tooth removed in hospital every ten minutes, which is around 141 children a day.

Tooth decay is the number one reason for childhood hospital admissions in the UK.

Sugars, fizzy drinks, even concentrated fruit juices all generate plaque acids, which if allowed to build up on the surface of the teeth can gradually dissolve away the enamel and dentine of the tooth leading to decay. Limiting or reducing the amount of these foods and drinks we consume can be an easy and simple step for both adults and children. It is also worth remembering the hidden sugars in processed foods too. The more we can reduce the intake, the better it can be. Treats don’t have to be banned, just allow the teeth time to recover by spacing things out and regular brushing.

Regular check ups with your dentist can help identify issues in their early stages. But is worth remembering that good daily hygiene of regular brushing and flossing along with a health diet and relevant supplements.

One of the other major issues we often think about in relation to oral health is bad breath. Perhaps the worst thing is, you might not even know you have it! The previously mentioned Oral Health Foundation suggest one way of finding out if you have it is to like the inside of your wrist and sniff! Of course, if you have just eaten highly flavoured food such as garlic or onions you might not get a pleasant result! Are you brave enough to try?

If you have a bad breath issue, there can be a number of causes apart from what you have just eaten. It can be a sign that the friendly bacteria in your mouth and digestive system are out of balance. This could be due to a recent course of medication such as antibiotics that can kill off the good bacteria with the bad, or an out of balance digestive system. Eating fermented foods such as kefir and yogurt or sauerkraut can introduce good bacteria into the system. If you are not a fan of fermented foods, try taking a friendly bacteria supplement. The supplements are full of the good bacteria that we have in our gut and mouth, they help in the process of digesting foods, keeping the gut clean and even supporting the immune system.

Oral health is more than just your mouth, it is about a healthy digestive system too.

Probiotics, or friendly bacteria can be take regularly and are ideal if you are travelling as they don’t need to be kept in the fridge anymore. For a child that cannot swallow capsules, there is a fun alternative, AOR have a product called Lava Rox. An oral-biotic that provides friendly bacteria in a base that is like popping candy! Designed to provide the bacteria that is specifically relevant to oral health, it is a great and fun way to get children to take a supplement. They taste great too and of course are sugar free with no artificial flavours or colours.

Inflammatory problems such as gingivitis and periodontitis can lead to long term problems with inflamed and receding gums and in severe cases, tooth loss. They are caused by an interaction of a bacterial attack and an inflammatory response in the mouth.  Although the body will try to mediate the inflammatory response, this will include free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) which may lead to collagen and periodontal cell breakdown. There has been a lot of research on the antioxidant co enzyme, Co Q 10, in it’s reduced form known as ubiquinol, it has been shown to increase the levels of Co Q 10 in the diseased area and supress or reduce further inflammation.

Co Q 10 is present in the mitochondria, or the engine room, of all of our cells. It plays an important role in helping create energy in the cells as well as having antioxidant properties. As part of an oral heath regime, it is a good supplement to add to your programme.  Research suggests that it could take around four months for significant improvement, so don’t give up after a short time.

Vitamin C is another nutrient plays a role in oral health. It is needed for collagen production and for healthy teeth. Just ensure that if you are taking a chewable vitamin C that it doesn’t contain a lot of sugar!

Calcium is perhaps the nutrient that everyone knows about as being important for strong teeth. This mineral is important for building bones and tooth enamel. The absorption of calcium is helped by Vitamin D, so a regular intake of these nutrients through food or supplements can help keep your oral health on track. Calcium comes in many forms, some more absorbable than others. Look for hydroxyapatite complex, which is easily absorbed and utilised by the body. Magnesium also plays a role, look for the Bisglycinate form for easy absorption or citrate for a gentle form if you experience gut irritation.

As always, a wide and varied diet full of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables are important and a good nutritional foundation to underpin your overall health. And it’s no exception when it comes to oral health. Plenty of whole grains can provide B vitamins which are important if your lips tend to crack and split at the corners of the mouth. For an increased intake, you can add a B complex supplement to add to what is in your diet.

We might all love a sunny day, but for some of us that means cold sores appear. Not only might you worry about how they look, they can feel unpleasant too. Keep your immune system healthy with nutrients including vitamins C and D and the mineral Zinc and use a lip balm with an SPF factor and maybe something soothing such as propolis or tea tree oil.  Good gut health is also important for a healthy immune system, so it’s back to the probiotics we mentioned earlier.

Sunny days can be wonderful, unless you suffer from cold sores.

The amino acid L-Lysine has also been shown to help prevent cold sores and at the same time you increase your L-lysine intake, it makes sense to reduce foods high in L-arginine. This is an amino acid that stops the L-lysine working so well. They may well be healthy foods, but worth avoiding if you get an outbreak. They include nuts, particularly peanuts, yes that includes peanut butter! You will also find high arginine levels in pumpkin seeds, chocolate, wheat, oats and members of the squash family. So if you have an outbreak, reduce these foods too. Also look at your ither supplements, if you take any sports supplements, they may contain L-arginine too.

Good oral health can make us feel happier, more confident and also be a sign of a healthy body. You might not want to go and kiss everyone on International Kissing Day, but having good oral health is an important part of our overall wellbeing and anything that keeps us healthy is a good thing.

Good oral health can make us feel happier and more confident.

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