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Say Ahh! Act on Mouth Health

Oral ill-health is a global problem; around 90% of the world’s population will experience tooth decay, gum disease or other oral diseases at some point in their lives. In South Africa, where there are limited dental public health services, an estimated 60% of primary school children already have dental decay and the majority will not receive treatment.

Fortunately, most oral diseases are preventable; prevention is the key message to this year’s World Oral Health Day on 20 March. The FDI World Dental Federation is calling on everyone to take action to prevent oral disease and protect their overall health with the theme ‘Say Ahh: Act on Mouth Health’.

Local oral hygiene expert, Ivohealth’s Dirna Grobbelaar, agrees that taking action and following an effective daily oral care routine is vital to maintain a healthy mouth for life. She recommends these three daily steps for good oral health:

  1. Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, using a manual or powerbrush, like the new Sunstar GUM ActiVital Sonic toothbrush. World Oral Health Day tip: don’t rinse with water straight after brushing, simply spit out any excess toothpaste.
  1. Clean in-between the teeth every day, using floss or another tool, such as Sunstar GUM Soft-Picks or tiny interdental brushes. If you’re not sure how to do it correctly, or what tool to use, ask your dentist or oral hygienist
  1. Rinse, either as a final step, after eating or when brushing isn’t possible. Use an alcohol-free mouthwash containing fluoride (like Dentyl Dual Action or Sunstar GUM Original White) or chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva and naturally ‘rinse’ the mouth.

In addition to your daily three step oral care routine, the World Oral Health Day campaign recommends several lifestyle tips for a healthy mouth, including:

  1. Eat a nutritious diet and limit high-sugar snacks and drinks. In a bid to reduce non-communicable ‘lifestyle’ diseases, including dental caries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) now recommends reducing ‘free’ sugar consumption to less than 5% of total energy intake.
  1. Don’t smoke and limit alcohol. Tobacco and alcohol increase the risk of gum disease and oral cancer. If you use a mouthwash, choose an alcohol-free variety (like Dentyl Dual Action or Sunstar GUM Original White or Paroex).
  1. If you do contact sport, protect your teeth with a mouth guard.

Grobbelaar advises that everyone has regular dental check-ups and cleanings. “If possible see the dentist at least once a year and ideally have a professional scale and polish every six months. The dentist or oral hygienist can remove plaque and tartar that you are unable to remove by brushing. If not removed, the build-up will irritate the gums and cause gum disease.”

Prevention, early detection and prompt treatment will help you reduce the risk of oral diseases and ensure the best treatment outcome. For the sake of your health, it’s time to wise-up on your oral hygiene and ‘Act on Mouth Health’.

For expert oral care advice speak to your dental professional or visit To test your oral health know-how complete the World Oral Health Day checklist

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