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Oral Health Month: Think mouth, think health


Mouth graphic with brushing teeth.
The health of your mouth affects your overall health!

Oral Health Month

The most rewarding parts of my day-to-day work happen when I have the opportunity to really make a positive change within a family. While this may not happen all the time when it does, it is truly motivating. I’ve been a practicing Dental Hygienist for 29 years and have been very fortunate to have worked in different practice settings that have provided a variety of experiences. I'm privileged to work with many caring people from different disciplines, all who assist families to access services that help to make healthy changes in their client’s lives.

In the dental program at Northern Health, we provide penlight oral assessments and fluoride varnish as well as information and education on oral health, with a focus on children up to 5 years of age. I’ve met many wonderful children over the years but one encounter in particular stands out for me.

The health of your mouth affects your overall health

A preschooler at one of the programs that the dental team attends was very reluctant to let us see inside their mouth because it was sore and the teeth were sensitive. Once the child allowed us a look, we saw that there were areas of decay and infection. The Speech Pathologist who worked with the child was also concerned as the child did not speak often or clearly and seemed withdrawn, so we contacted the family to ask if we could assist with finding a dentist. The family had encountered many barriers and had been unable to obtain the care the child needed. Fortunately, we were able to assist and the child received treatment, which was rewarding in itself, as the family was appreciative and the child was out of pain. But the true gift was when the Speech Pathologist told us that the first clear word the child spoke was their infant sibling’s name, along with a huge smile.

Keep your mouth happy and healthy

As you can see from this story, the health of your mouth affects your overall health, speech included! If your mouth is not healthy it can also affect your appearance, confidence, social acceptance, ability to eat and sleep, and have negative impacts on chronic diseases such as diabetes. Baby teeth are especially important for speech development, eating, overall health, and are often overlooked as they fall out. The good news is that you can follow basic steps to maintain good oral health! At the Canadian Dental Association you can learn more about Oral Health Month and how to keep your mouth happy and healthy.

If there’s one thing to remember after this April: Think mouth, think health!