Poor oral health can affect a person’s quality of life in ways that might not always be top of mind. Oral pain, missing teeth or oral infections can influence the way a person speaks, eats and socializes. These problems can reduce quality of life by affecting their physical, mental and social well-being.
1. Keep your mouth clean
- Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Wait at least 20–30 minutes after eating before brushing your teeth.
- Floss every day.
2. Check your mouth regularly
- Look for signs of gum disease:
- Red, shiny, puffy, sore or sensitive gums
- Bleeding when you brush or floss
- Bad breath that won’t go away
- Look for signs of oral cancer:
- Bleeding or open sores that don’t heal
- White or red patches
- Numbness or tingling
- Small lumps and thickening on the sides or bottom of your tongue, the floor or roof of your mouth, the inside of your cheeks, or on your gums
3. See a dentist regularly
Regular dental exams and professional cleanings are the best way to prevent and detect problems before they get worse.
4. Don’t smoke or chew tobacco
Smoking and chewing tobacco can cause oral cancer, heart disease, gum disease, and a variety of other cancers.
5. Eat well
Good nutrition helps build strong teeth and gums. Limit foods and beverages containing sugar. Some mouth-healthy snacks include cheese, nuts, vegetables, and non-acidic fruits.
Research has shown a link between oral disease and other health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory illness, as well as pre-term and low-birth-weight babies. Although the relationship between these ailments is not completely understood, it’s clear that keeping a healthy mouth is an important part of leading a healthy life.