(GIS) – Saint Lucia joined the rest of the world in celebrating World Oral Health Day on March 20.
As part of the observance the Dental Unit in the Ministry of Health and Wellness launched a selfie competition for secondary school students.
Deputy Permanent Secretary, Verena Calderon, said maintaining a healthy mouth is crucial to maintaining one’s overall health and quality of life.
“One cannot deny the benefits of a cavity-free smile. It opens the doors of communication that would otherwise remain shut. It boosts the confidence and self-esteem of the individual as well as reduces the aggravation of other health diseases such as diabetes, respiratory, and cardiac conditions.”
Senior Dental Surgeon Dr. Sherry Ephraim Le Compte said the health status of the mouth is a mirror image of the health status of the body, in general, and that bad oral health can affect our overall health.
“Studies have shown that the toxins produced by the bacteria in the mouth in gum disease affect the pancreas. The insulin produced is not very effective in maintaining proper blood sugar levels and so diabetics with poor oral hygiene may have difficulty in controlling their blood sugar even if they take medication. Hence, it is so important for health care professionals to refer diabetic patients for regular dental checkups.
Toxins that are released by the bacteria from the mouth can enter the blood stream and can form plaque in the arteries leading to blood clots and blockage. The toxins can also cause the liver to produce proteins that cause inflammation, which may eventually lead to heart attack or stroke.
“Pregnant women who may have poor oral hygiene due to their change in hormones, inflammation of the gums, nausea, or repeated vomiting, are more likely to have preterm births due to the inflammation caused by the bacteria when it enters the blood stream and crosses the placenta. These are just some of the examples of how poor oral hygiene is related to our overall health.”
As part of the World Oral Health Day observance, the Dental Unit also launched a ‘Selfie at the Dentist’ competition for children aged 12 and 13. The health promotion activity is geared toward encouraging young people to visit the dentist regularly.
The launch of World Oral Health Day took place at the Finance Administrative Centre in Pointe Seraphine.