ORAL HEALTH IS GOOD
FOR OUR COMMUNITIES
Regular care can lead to better health and
When you look after your mouth, you’re healthier, have a higher
quality of life and need less medical care. Our communities
benefit as well. For example, good oral health helps children do
better at school. When children have healthy mouths, they avoid
dental pain and can sleep, eat, develop, learn and focus better.
In adults, good oral health translates into higher productivity at
work and less time away from the job.
Alberta’s registered dental hygienists are hitting the road to
share these messages. “We are trying to help people learn about
the links between the mouth and overall health,” says Denise
Kokaram, program lead for Calgary’s Alex Dental Health Bus.
The bus is equipped with two X-ray machines and a wheelchair
lift so dental hygiene care can be taken into the community.
Kokaram also works with public and private dental professionals
to organize SMILE dental clinics that provide free dental care
to underserved children and youth aged six to 24.
Everything that is happening in the body is reflected in the
mouth, and vice versa,” says Alexandra Sheppard, associate
clinical professor of the Dental Hygiene Program with the
Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta. An
examination by a dental hygienist is part of a patient’s care plan.
Dental hygiene examinations include
z Oral cancer: Some people have a higher than average risk
of developing oral cancer. You could be at a higher risk if
z smoke, use smokeless tobacco or both
z drink alcohol, especially if you are a heavy drinker
z have a precancerous condition of the oral cavity, such
as leukoplakia, erythroplakia or oral submucous fibrosis
z Dental decay: A dental hygienist will determine your risk of
developing dental decay and assess the presence of dental
z Gingivitis and periodontal disease: These infections of
the gums (gingivitis) and bone surrounding the teeth
(periodontal disease) can be indicated by bleeding
gums and bad breath. Loose teeth are a result of severe
periodontal disease. Osteoporosis could be a contributing
factor. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, nursing and
post-menopause can also make women more susceptible to
gingivitis and periodontal disease.
z Diet: Healthy food choices positively affect oral health and
the development of the teeth and supporting structures.
z Oral habits: Thumb-sucking or other oral habits can affect
the development of the mouth and teeth.