New study shows more needs to be done to raise public awareness on the impact of good oral health habits on overall health.
Bangkok, 6th October – A new study by Ipsos and GSK Consumer Healthcare, with 4500 participants across 9 countries, including 500 participants from Thailand. Key findings from respondents in Thailand highlight insufficient public awareness on the impact of good oral health to our overall health and the need to promote good oral health habits in Thailand. This behavior can be more than their smile put at risk if they don’t take care of their mouths properly.
The association between oral health and overall health is well-documented by the scientific community. However, public awareness of the wider benefits of careful tooth-brushing, taking care of your oral cavity and regular dentist visits remains worryingly low.
- Not enough awareness of the importance of good oral health during pregnancy
During pregnancy, higher hormone levels can change the way the body reacts to plaque build-up, causing swollen gums, an early sign of gum disease. Pregnant women with severe gum disease, also known as periodontitis, are more at riskgiving birth prematurely, suffer pre-eclampsia, or have a baby with low birth weight – meaning good oral health habits and seeking advice from healthcare professionals are critical1.
Yet, just 61% of respondents to the survey were aware that good oral healthcare can support a healthier pregnancy, with lower risk of complications. There was even lower awareness of the risks of poor oral health for pregnancy among older respondents who will be grandparents and often advisors. While approximately 71% of those under 50 knew of the risks, the number fell to just 52% for people aged over 50.
- Higher risk groups unaware of oral health links to diabetes
Poor oral health can cause gum inflammation and infection. This can make it harder for the body to control blood sugar levels, and respond appropriately to insulin2. In turn, high glucose levels in the saliva of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes sufferers can increase the risk of dental decay, and their high blood sugar levels mean general wounds, including those in the mouth, heal more slowly.
While 69% of respondents between the age 18-29 were aware that good oral health has a positive impact on helping to maintain blood sugar levels and manage diabetes, this number dropped to only 62% for respondents over 50. With the over 50s, being a higher-risk group, more likely to develop type 2 Diabetes, this suggests a need for targeted awareness raising and education.
- Oral health links to cardiovascular disease better recognised
Research shows that people with severe gum disease are at higher risk of heart
disease. The bacteria that attack gums can spread throughout the body in
the bloodstream and can cause inflammation 3.
63% of respondents were aware that good oral health habits can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
The study highlighted the significant role of regular dental visits in improving understanding of the relevance of oral health to overall health. Respondents who visited a dentist more frequently during the pandemic compared to before were more aware of the impact of oral health on all conditions surveyed.
- 76% of respondents in South East Asia who visited the dentist more frequently compared to pre-Covid times were aware that good oral health can improve the chance of healthy pregnancy compared to 58% of respondents on average.
- 77% of respondents in South East Asia who visited the dentist more frequently compared to pre-Covid times were aware that good oral health can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, compared to 65% of respondents on average.
- 74% of respondents in South East Asia who visited the dentist more frequently compared to pre-Covid times were aware that good oral health can help to manage diabetes compared to 62% average of respondents on average.
Emerson Aguinaldo, General Manager, South East Asia and Taiwan, GSK Consumer Healthcare, said: “Being healthy isn’t all about broadcasting your runs or snapping photos at the gym – it can be the most mundane, behind-the-scenes habits that have the biggest impact. Good oral care habits like good, regular tooth-brushing using proven effective consumer healthcare products (toothpaste, mouth rinse and floss) are no exception. We need to show people the power of getting these habits right due to the many positive effects this can have on overall health, ultimately reducing the risk of developing a number of health conditions in the long term.
As a leading global healthcare company, GSK work closely with frontline health workers, pharmacists, dentists and government organisations to empower consumers to take better care of their everyday health, and in doing so, relieving pressure on our health services.”