Say Ahh: Think Mouth, Think Health
A healthy mouth and a healthy body go hand in hand and this is the key message behind this year’s World Oral Health Day theme ‘Say Ahh: Think Mouth, Think Health’.
Oral diseases affect 3.9 billion people around the world and untreated tooth decay touches 44% of people globally – almost half the world’s population. Understanding the mouth and body connection can help prevent you and your family from being added to these staggering numbers.
It is said the ‘mouth is a mirror to your body’. A look into the mouth can reveal nutritional deficiencies, diseases and unhealthy habits, like smoking. A healthy mouth allows you to speak, smile, eat and drink with confidence, can boost social interaction and self-esteem. An unhealthy mouth can cause discomfort, disease, lost school or work days and lead to social isolation and low self-confidence.
The World Oral Health Day campaign highlights three pillars for good oral health:
Prevention – adopt good oral hygiene habits, eat a healthy diet (one that is low in sugar), limit alcohol-intake and don’t smoke.
Detection – have regular dental check-ups (at least once a year)
Treatment – you should see your dentist immediately if you experience dental problems. On a global level, the Federation for Dental Health is encouraging people around the world to lobby for better access to dental care for all.
To download a brochure, personalise your own WOHD poster or gather more info visit www.worldoralhealthday.org.
Around 80% of children in South Africa have tooth decay before the age of six, which is perhaps not surprising with the combination of extremely high sugar consumption and limited access to dental care. Many people do not have basic oral care tools; it’s not unheard of for a whole family to share one toothbrush.
The Dental Wellness Trust (DWT) is on a mission to improve the oral health of children and vulnerable adults around the world. The registered charity is based in London, but making a difference in South Africa, the UK and around the world.
Dentist Dr Linda Greenwall, who is originally from South Africa, founded the dynamic non-profit in 2011, to provide innovative oral health education programmes and treatment for children and vulnerable adults.
“We believe everyone has the right to access oral healthcare, and enjoy a life of dignity, free from pain,” she says. “Prevention is key. Before we start treating tooth decay we need to teach children correct habits.”
The DWT has worked in Israel, Rwanda, Uganda and Ghana. They recently rolled out their Live Smart oral health education programme in Luton, England. “We took what we’ve learnt working with children in South Africa and applied it to the UK,” says Dr Greenwall.
They have been active in South Africa since 2012 and currently work with over 10, 000 pre-school children at 360 schools in low-income areas of Cape Town – Khayelitsha, Mfuleni, Delft and Mitchell’s Plain. They have 33 specially trained ‘toothbrushing mamas’ who run the programme at the schools and in their own homes. Live Smart teaches young children the most important hygiene practices for good health – proper hand washing and correct tooth brushing.
“When we started working in South Africa it was shocking to see the enormous levels of decay in very young children. But we have seen how the Live Smart programme makes a difference and it’s so effective that we’re rolling it out in the UK as well as Johannesburg.” DWT is also working to open a dental clinic and education centre in Mfuleni, where volunteer dental professionals from around the world can come to help treat patients who otherwise are unable to easily access care.
At Ivohealth and our sister company Ivodent, we are committed to supporting the Dental Wellness Trust in South Africa.
You can help! Every time someone signs up for our newsletter in February, we will donate a Sunstar GUM children’s toothbrush to the Trust. Simply sign up here www.ivohealth.co.za/contact-us and give a child in need a new brush and a big smile 🙂
For fresh breath and a healthy mouth dental professionals recommend cleaning the tongue every day as part of an effective oral hygiene routine. Here’s how to clean the tongue in 7 simple steps:
- Ideally, use a tool specially designed for cleaning the tongue like the Sunstar GUM Tongue Cleaner. If you don’t have one, use your toothbrush or a metal teaspoon turned upside down.
- Clean your tongue each time you brush your teeth (twice a day), especially if you smoke or suffer from post-nasal drip.
- Gently scrape from as far back as you can without gagging, to the front of the tongue. Breathing out as your clean the back of the tongue helps prevent gagging.
- Rinse the tool between each swipe.
- Gargle with water or an alcohol-free mouthwash.
- Clean the tongue before or after brushing and flossing – whichever you prefer. Cleaning the tongue at night can help prevent ‘morning breath’.
- For extra freshness use a small amount of toothpaste and gently brush the tongue before cleaning.
The Sunstar GUM Tongue Cleaner very cleverly has two edges – one with soft bristles to gently brush the tongue and one with a serrated edge to wipe clean.
WIN! You can win with our February #FreshBreathFix campaign. There are weekly Sunstar GUM hampers and two premium DSLR Lumix cameras up for grabs. Simply follow us on Facebook and look out for the weekly competitions.
GIVE! Giving feels good! We’ve chosen to support the Dental Wellness Trust during February’s #FreshBreathFix campaign. Each time someone signs up for our newsletter (www.ivohealth.co.za/contact-us) we will donate a Sunstar GUM children’s toothbrush on their behalf, to the Dental Wellness Trust’s oral health education programme in Khayelitsha. This programme is teaching 10, 000 pre-school learners how to look after their teeth so they can enjoy a lifetime of healthy smiles. Please sign up and support this great initiative.
Rather than getting in a twist about smelly breath, treat your tongue to a fresh breath fix. For when it comes to bad breath, experts agree that the tongue is often the culprit.
“We recommend tongue scraping as part of a regular oral care routine,” says Stella Lamprecht, President of the Oral Hygienists’ Association of South Africa. “The surface of the tongue has tiny grooves where bacteria and plaque can accumulate. Removing the bacteria and debris on the tongue is one of the simplest ways to ensure fresh breath and a healthy mouth. Everyone, from children to older people, should incorporate it into their oral care on a daily basis. Cleaning the tongue at night can help prevent ‘morning’ breath.”
“Ideally use a tool specially designed for the job like the Sunstar GUM Tongue Cleaner,” says Dirna Grobbelaar, Ivohealth’s oral hygiene advisor. “Alternatively, use your toothbrush or a metal teaspoon turned upside down; both are better than not doing it at all. Start as far back as you can without gagging and gently scrape the tongue’s surface. Don’t use much pressure. It shouldn’t be painful or cause injury. Rinse the tool after each swipe and then gargle, using water or an alcohol-free mouthwash like Sunstar GUM Original White mouthrinse or Dentyl Dual Action.
In some cultures, cleaning the tongue has been a tradition since ancient times. For centuries, Indian Ayurvedic medicine has recommended daily scraping for mental, physical and spiritual well-being. More recently research has shown that cleaning the tongue improves breath odour and the sense of taste.
“Brushing correctly, flossing in-between the teeth and cleaning the tongue are the cornerstones of effective oral care,” says Grobbelaar. “If plaque and food debris are not properly removed from the various parts of the mouth they break down and release foul-smelling gases, irritate the gums and potentially cause disease.” For expert oral care advice speak to your dental professional.
WIN! You can win with our February #FreshBreathFix campaign. There are weekly Sunstar GUM hampers and two premium DSLR Lumix cameras up for grabs. Simply follow us on Facebook and look out for the weekly competitions.
GIVE! Giving feels good! We’ve chosen to support the Dental Wellness Trust during February’s #FreshBreathFix campaign. Each time someone signs up for our newsletter we will donate a Sunstar GUM children’s toothbrush on their behalf, to the Dental Wellness Trust’s oral health education programme in Khayelitsha. This programme is teaching 10, 000 pre-school learners how to look after their teeth so they can enjoy a lifetime of healthy smiles. Please sign up and support this great initiative.
With the holidays providing many reasons to smile here’s Dirna Grobbelaar’s top tips to help your smile shine:
- Clean your teeth correctly twice a day for a full two minutes each time.
- Clean in-between your teeth every day using floss or one of Sunstar GUM’s interdental tools such as Soft-Picks.
- Go to the oral hygienist for a professional cleaning (ideally every six months).
- Use Sunstar GUM Original White toothpaste, floss and rinse to restore the original whiteness of teeth and prevent further staining.
- Use the Philips Sonicare rechargeable powerbrush – clinically proven to make teeth up to two shades whiter in two weeks.
- Brush, rinse with water or chew sugar-free gum after consuming berries, coke, coffee, tea or red wine. Green tea, white and herbal teas are less likely to stain than black tea.
- Don’t smoke.
The Sunstar GUM Original White range helps restore the original, natural whiteness of the teeth, effectively removing stains and helping prevent their reappearance. With its fortified fluoride content, GUM Original White protects and remineralises tooth enamel, providing maximum protection from decay and giving a smooth finish for enhanced shine.
The Sunstar GUM Original White range incorporates three quality products for a complete oral care routine:
- Sunstar GUM Original White Toothpaste contains fluoride to reinforce tooth enamel, as well as vitamins for healthier gums. It contains low-abrasive micro-silica to gently remove surface stains and a unique StainClear agent to help dissolve stains in hard-to-reach areas.
- Sunstar GUM Original White Floss, made with micronized silica, helps remove stains between teeth and provides effective interdental plaque control.
- Alcohol-free Sunstar GUM Original White Rinse also contains StainClear to help remove stains from in-between the teeth as well as tiny crevices in tooth enamel. Made with fluoride and vitamins Original White Rinse delivers a protective coating over the tooth surface to prevent further staining.
For maximum benefit use the full Original White range and floss, brush and rinse daily.
Whilst blood sugar control may be the most immediate concern for people affected by diabetes, it’s also important to take special care of the mouth, due to a potentially high risk of oral disease. For World Diabetes Day (14 November) our oral hygiene advisor Dirna Grobbelaar, shares expert information on maintaining a healthy mouth, in the event of being diagnosed with diabetes.
Oral health conditions associated with diabetes include gum disease, tooth decay, bad breath and dry mouth. Emerging research suggests a link with poorer glycaemic control in people and advanced gum disease (periodontitis).
The cause of many of these concerns is increased levels of glucose in the saliva which creates an ideal breeding ground for the oral bacteria that cause bad breath, cavities and gum disease. People with diabetes also tend to have a lower resistance to infection and heal more slowly, which can exacerbate gum problems.
The best approach is to prevent these problems with meticulous oral care. Brush correctly for two minutes, at least twice a day. Use a manual or power brush with soft bristles. Daily flossing to clean in-between is important. If you find floss too firm, try an interdental brush or gentle Sunstar GUM Soft-Picks. After eating, or for extra freshness, rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash like Dentyl Dual Action.
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is another common side effect and often an early sign prior to a diabetes diagnosis. Because saliva is the body’s natural way of cleaning the mouth, plaque and bacteria build up more quickly in a dry mouth, increasing the likelihood of gum disease, decay and bad breath. Drinking water will give temporary relief and chewing gum can stimulate saliva flow. There are also products especially developed to help produce saliva, such as Sunstar GUM Hydral Moisturising Gel and Moisturising Spray that lubricate, soothe, promote soft tissue repair and create a protective coating in the mouth.
Bleeding gums usually indicate gum disease, which is reversible if treated correctly in the early stages. You might find your gums bleed a little if you start flossing or become more diligent in your oral care routine. However this should only last a day or two, so it’s important to consult your dental professional if your gums bleed for longer. Treatment products like Sunstar GUM’s Paroex mouth rinse and Sunstar GUM Paroex Gel toothpaste are excellent at helping clear up infections.
Work as a team with your dental professionals. Ensure they know that you have diabetes and book a check-up and professional clean at least every six months, or more if necessary. Wishing you healthy smiles!
Your oral care routine may not seem to be a priority if you are battling cancer, but preventing and controlling oral complications during treatment for cancer can help ease the journey.
About a third of people undergoing cancer treatment develop oral problems, including dry mouth (xerostomia), tooth decay, infections and mouth ulcers. Dirna Grobbelaar, our oral hygiene advisor, shares how to prevent and manage these common concerns.
A healthy mouth is less likely to develop oral complications. Ideally have a dental check-up and a professional clean before starting treatment, allowing two weeks or more between treatment and any dental surgery.
Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a common side effect of radiation and many chemotherapy drugs and other medication. Saliva is the body’s natural way of keeping the mouth clean. Dry mouth encourages plaque and bacteria build up, increasing the likelihood of gum disease, decay and bad breath. Drinking water will give temporary relief and chewing gum can stimulate saliva flow. There are also products especially developed to help produce saliva, such as Sunstar GUM Hydral Moisturising Gel and Moisturising Spray that lubricate, soothe, promote soft tissue repair and create a protective coating in the mouth.
Meticulous oral care is crucial. Brush correctly at least twice a day, using a soft brush that will be gentler on sensitive gums and cleans just as effectively. Dipping the brush in warm water will further soften the bristles. You may feel extremely tired – a quality electric toothbrush, like the Philips Sonicare powerbrush will give a ‘supreme clean’ with minimum effort.
Clean between the teeth daily. If you find floss too firm, try an interdental brush or gentle Sunstar GUM Soft-Picks. After eating, or for extra freshness, rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash like Dentyl Dual Action.
If you experience nausea and vomiting, don’t brush teeth immediately afterwards; stomach acid demineralises enamel and weakens teeth. Initially just rinse your mouth with water or an alcohol-free mouthwash, then wait an hour or so before brushing.
Mouth ulcers (canker sores) expose sensitive nerve endings that can make drinking, eating, talking and cleaning your mouth painful. Don’t neglect your oral hygiene as it can promote quicker healing. Look for products like Aloclair that creates a protective film over the ulcer, for immediate relief.
Should you experience any dental or oral side effects during treatment, chat to a member of your healthcare team – your doctor, nurse or dental professional. Managing symptoms will help alleviate any pain and discomfort – a critical part of your care and recovery.
For further expert advice on looking after your health during cancer treatment, download our ‘Love Your Life, Love Your Oral Care’ booklet or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org to request your free copy. Wishing you good health!
September is National Oral Health Month
Following on from the international news reports last year that flossing is no longer necessary, should you still clean in-between? According to local dental professionals – absolutely! Says Stella Lamprecht, President of the Oral Hygienists’ Association of South Africa, “We can honestly say you only have to floss those teeth that you would like to keep. There are a lot of conflicting messages out there, but as oral hygienists, we recommend that you floss.”
The South African Dental Association (SADA) shares a similar view, “It is essential to floss or to use interdental brushes,” says Dr Nosipho Mzobe, SADA’s Head of Education. “The aim is to minimise the bacteria and micro-organisms that build up in the mouth causing tooth decay and disease. Brushing alone cannot remove it all, particularly in-between the teeth.”
Each tooth has five surfaces and brushing can reach only three. The other two surfaces are usually in close contact, allowing food debris and bacteria to get stuck and build up, above and below the gums. If this is not removed properly it will irritate the gums and eventually cause disease.
Although daily flossing or interdental cleaning is recommended, less than a third of South Africans floss on the recommended daily basis. Many people cite a lack of time or finding floss difficult to use. “It’s important to use floss correctly, otherwise you it may be ineffective or even damaging,” says Dr Mzobe. “Ask your oral hygienist or dentist to show you the correct method.”
“Cleaning in-between can be quick and easy if you have the right tools and know how,” says Ivohealth’s oral hygiene advisor Dirna Grobbelaar. She recommends using traditional string floss or a special tool. “Interdental brushes are excellent at cleaning bigger gaps, around braces, bridges or crowns. Floss on handle, like disposable GUM Easy Flossers are great for children or people with limited dexterity. If budget allows, consider power options like the Panasonic Oral Irrigator or the Sonicare AirFloss which jets a microburst of air and water between the teeth. Any of these tools can be effective; the main thing is to find a floss or tool that suits you, your mouth and your lifestyle,” says Grobbelaar.
How to ‘floss like a boss’ for a clean, fresh, healthy mouth:
- Take about 30cm of floss
- Wind the floss around your middle fingers
- Hold it floss between thumbs and index fingers
- Slide the floss in-between teeth using a gentle back-and-forth sawing action
- Fold floss around the side of a tooth in a C-shape
- Slide the floss up and down, against tooth and just under the gum line
- Repeat on the neighbouring tooth
- Pull out and repeat using a clean section of the floss
Watch the 30 second ‘how to floss’ videos, for people with normal teeth, implants and braces. There’s even a video on ‘alternatives to floss’.
Says Cape Town oral hygienist Elna van der Ham, “A clean tooth cannot be diseased. Discarding the use of dental floss would be irresponsible to say the least.”
We are proud to announce that our parent company Ivodent, has partnered with Liechtenstein-based Ivoclar Vivadent, leading manufacturers of innovative dental applications, to open a high-tech dental training and continuing education centre.
Based in Cape Town, this International Centre for Dental Education (ICDE), the first in Southern Africa, will draw dentists, dental technologists, therapists and oral hygienists to its workshop, which is equipped with the very latest in state-of-the-art training equipment.
“It is vital to keep the profession well informed,” says Ian Hockly, Technical Advisor, Ivodent, which takes on the responsibility and management of the centre, the culmination of a long collaboration between Ivodent and Ivoclar Vivadent.
“We are moving into an era of dentistry only dreamt about many years ago. Many procedures can now be done in a lab using Cadcam, and there are developments such as three-D printing and the potential of robotics.
“But advances in technologies and materials can be confusing and a facility such as this will help the profession stay abreast with developments as they happen. Continuing education is essential to place new products in the market and have the correct protocols to achieve desired predictable results,” says Hockly.
“Continuing education is essential to keep SA dental professionals up to date to serve the needs of their patients at the highest level. The centre opens exciting educational opportunities for the dental community of SA and neighbouring countries.”
For details on the Ivodent International Centre for Dental Education view www.ivodentonline.co.za.
Mouth ulcers are usually a small problem that can be a big pain, making eating, drinking or even talking uncomfortable.
About three-quarters of people will experience mouth ulcers at some point. They are often caused by a minor injury (e.g. biting the cheek accidentally) or can be recurring ‘aphthous’ ulcers, which often first appear in childhood and adolescence. Allergies can trigger mouth ulcers and babies and young children often develop them as a result of common viruses including Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, the Coksackie Virus and Herpes Simplex (Herpetic Gingivostomatitis).
Our oral hygiene expert Dirna Grobbelaar says that whilst ulcers can be uncomfortable, they should not be a cause for too much concern. “Mouth ulcers are not contagious and usually clear up by themselves in a few days.”
She does, however, warn against neglecting one’s oral care routine. “Mouth ulcers expose sensitive nerve endings which can make cleaning your mouth uncomfortable. However, maintaining good oral hygiene at this time can promote quicker healing and will keep your teeth and gums healthy.
“After eating and before going to bed, rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash such as GUM Paroex to help prevent the ulcer becoming infected. Continue to brush your teeth correctly twice a day, using a soft-bristled or child’s toothbrush if necessary. If your toothpaste stings try a non-foaming toothpaste like GUM Paroex Gel or all-natural Olgani Herbal Toothpaste.
“Avoid acidic, spicy or salty foods and drinks, which may burn. Drinking with a straw may help, but be careful that hot drinks do not burn the throat.”
There are various products available at pharmacies to relieve the pain of mouth ulcers. Grobbelaar recommends Aloclair gel or spray. “Aloclair forms a barrier over the sensitive nerve endings to give immediate pain relief. The protective coating helps reduce irritation and prevent food or bacteria infecting the ulcer. This allows the ulcer to heal faster. The spray and gel are easy to apply and contain soothing Aloe Vera.”
Most mouth ulcers will last up to 10 days before clearing up naturally. If an ulcer does not heal within two to three weeks consult your doctor or dentist – oral cancer rates are on the rise globally and predicted to treble in the next generation. An ulcer can be an early indicator and it is important to rule this out.