World Oral Health Day 2024

World Oral Health Day

The mouth is an incredibly important part of our body. How many things would we be unable to do if we didn’t have a mouth?

Eating, drinking, speaking, smiling - none of these activities would be possible without our mouths. We’d all be ‘hangry’, thirsty, bored from lack of conversation and miserable. Feeling a little more grateful for your mouth yet?

Good, because World Oral Health Day is all about raising awareness of practising good oral hygiene, so our mouths can perform all of the above functions. The campaign focuses on a specific theme each year and the theme for 2024 is a happy mouth means a happy body.

The aim of this campaign is to highlight the importance of oral health and caring for your teeth from the moment your first baby tooth appears, where prioritising oral health leads to better health overall.

Our mouths are worth looking after, so if you’re ready to make a pledge, sink your teeth into this guide on how to keep your mouth squeaky clean.

When is World Oral Health Day?

World Oral Health Day is the largest global awareness campaign on oral health and was founded by the FDI World Dental Federation in 2007.

It was originally celebrated on 12th September, which is the birthday of Dr Charles Godon (the founder of FDI World Dental Federation), but was not fully activated until 2013 after the date was changed to the 20th of March.

How did they decide on this date?

Healthy adults must have a total of 32 teeth and 0 dental cavities, and this can be numerically translated as 3/20 which can be interpreted as the date 20th March. How clever!

What is oral health?

The World Health Organisation (WHO)[1] describes oral health as a state of being free from:

  • Chronic mouth and facial pain
  • Oral and throat cancers
  • Oral infection and sores
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Tooth decay
  • Tooth loss
  • Any disorder that limits your capacity to bite, chew, smile or speak

Basically, having a mouth that is free from disease and has healthy gums and teeth would have a good state of oral health.

Impact of oral disease

Oral diseases are the most common non-communicable diseases (diseases that cannot be spread from person to person). In 2016 it was estimated[2] that oral diseases affected half of the world’s population, with gum disease being one of the most common diseases.

That’s a lot of people and the factors causing gum disease are easy to change.

The biggest factors are lifestyle choices such as smoking, an unhealthy diet and harmful use of alcohol, as well as poor oral hygiene and inadequate exposure to fluoride (a mineral that helps to prevent tooth decay).

Just think of the impact on this number of oral diseases if we all unite this World Oral Health Day to make positive changes to our lifestyle choices and oral hygiene practices - healthy smiles all around the globe!

How does oral health impact our overall health?

The state of our oral health can affect the rest of our bodies, so implementing good oral hygiene practices is very important to prevent other health problems.

Let’s use gum disease as an example. Gum disease[3] can increase the risk of many other kinds of health issues including stroke, diabetes and heart disease and has even been linked to problems with pregnancy and dementia.

It’s an infection of the tissues that support the teeth and is caused by bacteria which is a result of plaque build-up.

This disease causes inflammation that can, in some cases, affect the bloodstream and it is believed to slowly damage blood vessels in the heart and brain over a long time. These are quite serious implications for a disease that can be solved by simply brushing your teeth properly!

How do you know if you have gum disease?

Most people experience it at least once in their life. The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis which can cause your gums to bleed when brushing and bad breath.

If gingivitis is not treated, it can develop into a condition called periodontitis which affects the tissues that support your teeth and keep them in place.

Periodontitis, if not treated, can damage the jaw and small spaces can open up between the gum and teeth which can eventually cause teeth to become loose and may eventually fall out. The toothless grin has never been an attractive look!

How to improve oral health

Who’d have thought that disease in our mouths could cause such serious health problems?

The good news is that gum disease can be prevented easily and you don’t need to make any drastic changes to your lifestyle to avoid it, unless you never brush your teeth, in which case you may want to go back to the previous paragraph and just read over those health implications again: diabetes and heart disease don’t sound like fun.

Here are some steps you can take to keep your teeth healthy and avoid bleeding gums, bad breath and tooth loss.

Woman brushing her teeth

Brush your teeth twice a day

  • Brush your teeth for about 2 minutes every morning and every night before you go to bed.
  • Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride as this is the ingredient that prevents tooth decay
  • Brush all the surfaces of your teeth, ensuring you cover the inside, outside and chewing surfaces of your teeth
  • Don’t rinse with water or mouthwash straight after brushing, spit out any excess toothpaste instead

Floss between your teeth

  • Use either dental floss, dental tape or an interdental brush every day to remove food, debris and plaque that can get stuck between your teeth
  • Don’t be too aggressive with the floss, as you risk harming your gums
  • Break off about 45 cm of floss and wind each end around 1 finger of each hand
  • Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers
  • Use a gentle ‘rocking’ motion to guide the floss between your teeth

Healthy lifestyle

  • Eat well, avoiding excess sugar
  • Don’t smoke
  • Limit your alcohol
  • Only have 1 glass of fruit juice or smoothie a day as sugars released by fruit when it is juiced or put in a smoothie can damage our teeth

Have regular dental check-ups

  • It can be easy to put off going to the dentist, but detecting dental problems early can mean they’re easy to treat
  • Depending on how healthy your teeth and gums are, you should have a check-up from every 3 months to every 2 years
  •  A check-up allows your dentist to assess if you have any dental issues and help you keep your mouth healthy

Electric brush vs manual brush

The key to brushing your teeth properly is implementing a gentle and systematic technique for the correct amount of time and choosing the right toothbrush for you.

There are pros and cons for both electric and manual toothbrushes, so choosing which type of brush is best for you depends on your personal preferences.

Both brushes can clean your teeth effectively, however, electric toothbrushes can have built-in timers and programmes that ensure you are brushing your teeth correctly and for the recommended amount of time.

Manual toothbrushes are a less expensive option, but these rely on you to brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes and cover all the tooth surfaces, whereas electric brushes have rotating heads that cover more of the tooth’s surface quicker.

We can sometimes apply a little too much pressure with a manual toothbrush which can damage our soft oral tissue. You can still get good results with a manual toothbrush, but electric brushes do make the process easier and depending on the model, can help you brush your teeth more effectively.

An easier and more effective way to avoid having bad breath and a toothless grin - what’s not to like?

Sonic vs rotating toothbrushes

If you’re in the market for a new electric toothbrush, you’ll have probably come across the terms rotating and sonic. These refer to the two different types of brushing techniques available with electric toothbrushes, but what’s the difference?

Feature Rotating Sonic
Brush shape
  • Round brush head
  • Rotates at high speed
  • Completely envelop each tooth
  • Oval brush head - looks like a manual brush
  • Brush head vibrates at high speed
  • Covers a large tooth surface area
Brushing motion
  • Combination of a high rotational speed and quick pulsations
  • Loosens dental plaque
  • Makes 1000x more brushing motions in 1 brushing sessions compared to manual
  • Removes plaque deep down to the gum line
  • Vibrations generate microbubbles of water that clean even between your teeth
  • Brush each tooth individually
  • Requires a different style if you are used to a manual brush
  • Makes more of a scrubbing motion
  • Only have to move the brush head through each zone in your mouth
Extra Functions
  • Different brush settings
  • 2-minute and interval timers
  • Connect to phone apps
  • Allows you to choose the amount of vibrations you want to brush with - useful for sensitive teeth
  • Connects to app

Man and son brushing their teeth

How to get involved in World Oral Health Day

Who needs to take part in World Oral Health Day?

  • Do you have teeth?
  • Do you want to avoid smelly breath and a toothless smile?
  • Do you want to prevent serious health complications like stroke, heart disease and diabetes?

If you answered yes to the following questions, you need to get involved with World Oral Health Day. If you answered no to the bottom two questions, you’re going to be answering no to the first question, too!

There are so many ways you can get involved in World Oral Health Day.

Firstly you can go to the World Oral Health Day website where you can find a wealth of resources, posters, brochures, social media tools and much more.

Use the hashtags #UnitefForMouthHealth and #WOHD20 and share a selfie with your pledge! You can pledge anything that will contribute to better oral health, such as:

  • Say ahh for the dentist - regularly go to your dentist appointments
  • Help the dentist to keep your mouth healthy
  • Brush your teeth even when you’re tired
  • Cut down on sugary treats
  • Keep your mouth and body healthy
  • Always keep your mouth clean
  • Keep my mouth healthy through life

The most important thing you can do this World Oral Health Day is invest in your oral health. Chuck out that old, tattered toothbrush and replace it with a more effective brush.

Add dental floss to your bathroom cabinet. Ensure your toothpaste includes that all-important fluoride! Chemist4U can help you fulfil your oral health pledge - check out our range of dental products today!

Alexandra Moses - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 19 March 2024
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