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Active Living
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Ask the Doctor
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My Doctor Says I Need a Test
Childbirth
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Advice from the Maternity Clinic
Advice from the Maternity Clinic (Part 2)
Alcohol in Pregnancy
Building a Better Baby
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Getting a latch on breastfeeding
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RH Disease
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Sex During Pregnancy
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Smoking and Pregnancy
Support During Labour
Travelling While Pregnant
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When Baby Comes Home
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Not Just Baby Fat
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Chronic Pain
Full Listing with story descriptions
Introduction
Managing Your Pain
Movement Matters
Moving Forward
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Returning to Work
Understanding and Goal Setting
When Pain Doesn't End
Dental Health
Full Listing with story descriptions
Antibiotics and Dental Surgery
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Baby Teeth
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Mouth Guards
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First Dental Visit
Headaches
A Healthy Mouth
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Jaw Joint and Muscle Problems
Keeping it Clean
Laser Use in Dentistry
Mouth Protection Equipment
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Oral Healthcare
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Orthodontist First Visit
Painless Dentistry
Periodontal Disease
Removable Dentures
Root Canal
Seniors Oral Care
Sensitive Teeth
The Smile You Want
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Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Smiling through the Senior Years
Teeth for Life
Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)
Tobacco Risks to Oral Health
Tongue Piercing
Tooth Whitening
Travel Dentistry
Water Fluoridation
Wisdom Teeth
Your Healthy Smile
DIABETES
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10,000 Steps
A1C Test
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Alchohol and Diabetes
A Diabetes Success Story
ABCs of Diabetes Management
Alternate Site Testing
Artery Health
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Benefits of Insulin
Benefits of Breakfast
Blood Glucose Medications
Blood Glucose Myths
Blood Glucose Testing
Blood Glucose Testing Tips
Blood Sugar Lows
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C-Peptide Testing
Canada Food Guide Revisited
Carbohydrate Counting
Catastrophic Drug Plan
CDA Guidelines for Diabetes
Celiac Disease and Diabetes
Celebrating Health
Childhood Diagnosis of Diabetes
Children and Type 2 Diabetes
Cholesterol-lowering Medications
Colds and Diabetes
Constipation
Continuous Blood Glucose Monitoring
Cutting Edge
Dangers of Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure
Debunking Diabetes Myths
Driving and Diabetes
Diabetes and Menopause
Diabetes and OTC Medications
Diabetes Care Team
Diabetes and Celiac
Diabetes and Depression
Diabetes Diet
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Diabetes Eating on a Shoestring Budget
Diabetes Etiquette
Diabetes and Oral Health
Diabetes and Thyroid Disease
Diabetes and Your Mouth
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Diabetes Management ABCs
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Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Diabetic Retinopathy
Diet Tips for South Asians
Dining Out
Drinking and Diabetes
The Discovery of Insulin
Eating Disorders
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Eating to Protect Your Kidneys
Eating Well During Shift Work
Eggs in a Diabetic Diet
Emotional Eating
Emotions of Diabetes Diagnosis
Erectile Dysfunction
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Why Fad Diets Fail
Fats
Fibre
Fill Your Day with Energy
Financial Support for Diabetes
Food Temptation
Foot Care
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Get Active
Get Physical
Gift Ideas
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The Glycemic Index
Going Green in the Kitchen
Grocery Shopping Tips
Guidelines for Diabetes Management
Holiday Party Survival Guide
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Healthy Happy Holidays
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Health Benefits of Soy
Healthy Restaurant Meals
High Blood Pressure and Diabetes
High Blood Pressure
HbA1c Test
Healthy Eating for Active People
High Blood Lipids
Home from the Hospital
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Immunization & Diabetes
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Insulin Discovery-The Story
Insulin
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Insulin - the Key to Energy Management
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Immunization and Diabetes
Internet Health Sites
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Kidney Disease - Reducing the Risk
Living with Diagnosis of Diabetes
Living Powerfully with Diabetes
Low Blood Glucose
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Meal Planning
Your Medication Expert
Medication Research Studies
Metabolic Syndrome
Microalbuminuria
New Diabetes Technologies
Natural Medicines and Diabetes
No Need for Insulin?
Not Snoozing
Over-the-Counter Medications
Oral Health and Diabetes
Osteoporosis and Diabetes
Diabetes and OTC Medications
Pedicure Precautions
Peripheral Arterial Disease
Pet Diabetes
Planning for Pregnancy
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Reducing Stress of Surgery
Safe and Successful Travel
Schizophrenia and Diabetes
Sensible Snacking
Setting Health Goals
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Sharps Disposal
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Sleep - a Missing Link
Smart Snacking
Smart Summer Nutrition
Snack Bars
Snacking with Diabetes
Sodium
Social Media & Diabetes
Solving the Insurance Puzzle
Stress and Diabetes
Success in School
Supplements
Supporting Spouse with Diabetes
Sweeteners
Sugar, Carbs and Blood Glucose Control
Think Positive with Diabetes
Tiny Bites Equal Big Calories
Travelling with Diabetes
Tips for a Better You
Tobacco Use and Diabetes
Top 10 Reasons to Exercise
Treating Low Blood Glucose
Treating Hypoglycemia - Role of Glucagon
Tune up Your Diet
Type 1.5 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes
Understanding Diabetes
Understanding Diabetes Medications
Understanding Ketones
Used Sharps
Urinary Incontinence
Vacationing with Diabetes
Vegetarian Eating for Diabetes
Vitamin D
Walking
Wise Choices About Natural Medicines
Wonderful Water
Natural Medicines & Diabetes
World Diabetes Day
Your Medicine Cupboard
Zimbabwe Hand Jive
Family Medicine
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ADHD in Children
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Aspirin Every Day?
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Back Pain Myths
Back Pain - Lower
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Doctor Visit
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Canada's New Blood System
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Diabetes Epidemic
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Patient Safety in the Hospital
Pets and Health Benefits
Pet Therapy
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Schizophrenia
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Soy
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5 Tips to Manage Weight
10 Ways to Cut Down on Fat
Battle the Bulge
Boost Your Bone Strength
Body Image
Breakfast is Important
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Building Your Bones
Celiac Disease
Challenging the Milk Myth
Diet Reality Check
Drink Up!
Eating Smarter & Cheaper
Energy Drinks
Food Allergies
Food for Active Kids
Fast Food
Food Labels
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Healthy Diet, Healthy Smile
Healthy Eating for Boomers and Zoomers
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Healthy Eating on Business Travel
Healthy Ethnic Meals
Fad Diets
Fruits & Veggies - 5-10 a Day
Fats
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Feeding Your Kids
Fibre
Food Chemistry 101
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Healthy Eating for Teens
Healthy Habits
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New Ingredients for Your Shopping Cart
Iron
Kid's Food
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Mercury Levels in Fish
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H1N1 Virus - Plan Ahead
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Keys to Preventing Cancer
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Preventing Cancer through Nutrition
Quit Smoking 101
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15 Great Reasons to Breastfeed
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Family Health Magazine - DENTAL HEALTH

A Healthy Mouth
Oral health is a good start to great health

A smile on the face of a small child is a precious sight. The familiar taste of a favourite food as it excites our taste buds brings us satisfaction. We are moved by a thrilling speech or touched by the power of a beautiful song. The memory of a mother’s gentle kiss on our cheek is remembered fondly. We depend on our mouth, teeth, gums, tongue, lips and other structures for so much of what we enjoy in life.

On the other side, the importance of a healthy mouth is never more evident than when we have a problem. We may have the pain of a toothache, or be unable to chew food properly because of lost teeth. We may feel anxiety over the appearance of our smile.

We often take for granted our ability to speak, smile, kiss, smell, taste, touch, chew and swallow. Even without speech our face can convey a world of feelings and emotions through our expressions. Our appearance, self-image and self-esteem are easily affected by our awareness of our mouth, our teeth, and our smile.

What is oral health?

Many of us today enjoy good oral health. This is far more than not having a cavity in a tooth or gums that do not bleed. The World Health Organization defines health as a 'complete state of physical, mental and social well-being, and not just the absence of infirmity.' It follows that oral health also must be more than just the absence of disease, and includes the concept of well-being. Oral health and overall health are inseparable.

Oral health is a needed part of our overall health. Ignoring the signs of oral disease is harmful to our well-being. We need to expand our vision of oral health to mean more than just healthy teeth. It means being free of chronic pain, oral cancers, sores and irritations of the mouth, birth defects, and diseased gum tissue. Good oral health means being able to speak properly and chew foods necessary for good nutrition. It also means having a mouth that reflects a positive self-image and supports self-esteem.

Significant improvement in our oral health has occurred over the last number of decades. This has come about through public health efforts, more access to dental services and better care for our oral health at home.

Impact of oral diseases

Today there are still many who suffer from poor oral health and, as a result, have poor overall health. Children and adults still experience tooth decay. Many older adults have no natural teeth left. Some people suffer from chronic pain in jaw joints, oral cancer and cleft palates. Oral diseases can affect us at all ages and times of life from early childhood to old age.

Dental decay in children aged five to 17 years old is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. In Canada, tooth decay in very young children occurs in about six to eight per cent of the population. In certain groups of children this rate can be as high as 65 per cent. Tooth decay often contributes to poor growth and development, speech difficulties, pain and more disease in permanent teeth.

A study of Canadian pre-schoolers with tooth decay showed that 48 per cent complained of pain, and 61 per cent could not eat properly. Millions of hours of school time are lost each year to dental-related illness in children. Adults are affected as well. Most adults show signs of periodontal (gum) diseases. Canadian studies show that in a given month more than one-third of adults experience oral pain. This pain affects the daily activities of one in seven people.

Millions of hours of work time are also lost each year due to dental disease or dental visits. As many as 13 per cent of Canadian adults are unable to chew a full range of foods, and 10 per cent have problems with speech. Fourteen per cent experience a psychological or social impact of poor oral health. These could be enjoying food less, embarrassment over how one’s teeth look, and avoiding laughing or smiling.

Although many of us are keeping most of our teeth for our lifetime, there are still about 30 per cent of the elderly who have lost their teeth. This has a major impact on their ability to chew and to have a full and healthy diet.

Research has found that many elderly people in long-term care facilities have poor oral health and limited access to dental care. Over 8,000 people in North America die from oral cancer each year. Oral diseases not only affect our health and well-being. They require significant dollars to treat and prevent. In 1999 it was estimated that private spending on dental care in Canada reached $6.4 billion.

Many of those who most need dental care find it difficult to afford. Only 53 per cent of Canadians have some type of dental insurance. Those with lower incomes and less access to dental insurance do not visit the dental office as often as those with higher incomes and dental insurance.

It is also important to know that oral diseases have been associated with other general health issues. The mouth has often been considered a 'mirror' that reflects the general well-being of the whole body.

A number of diseases and infections, including the herpes virus, HIV, syphilis and tuberculosis, cause sores in the mouth.

Some medicines cause the mouth to be very dry. This can lead to more dental disease. The use of tobacco not only causes general health concerns but is also a major factor in causing oral disease. People with diabetes are more likely to have problems with gum disease. There is also some evidence that pregnant women with higher levels of gum disease are those more likely to deliver early, low birth weight babies. Gum disease has also been connected with heart disease, stroke and respiratory illness such as pneumonia. It is clearly evident that a strong link exists between our oral health and our overall health.

The good news about oral health

The good news is that safe, effective measures exist that can prevent disease or improve oral health. These measures include our own daily care for our oral health through proper oral hygiene, diet and lifestyle. Dental care providers are equipped with the latest in technology and science to prevent and repair the effects of oral disease. Regular care from dental professionals aids early detection and treatment of disease.

Good oral health is promoted through water fluoridation, education and public health programs. These are designed to prevent disease and help us obtain the right dental care. There are many overall health benefits to having excellent oral health.

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FAMILY HEALTH is written with the assistance of
Alberta College of Family Physicians
FAMILY HEALTH is written
with the assistance of
The College of Family Physicans of Canada
Alberta College of Family Physicians
While effort is made to reflect accepted medical knowledge and practice, articles in Family Health Online should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specified medical problem or concern and Family Health accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and care, you should always consult your family physician promptly. © Copyright 2015, Family Health Magazine, a special publication of the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 10006 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 2S6    [DH_FHa01]
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