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A Healthier Future Starts With a Healthier Mouth

Understanding the importance of oral health and embracing simple preventative strategies can help reduce the oral diseases that impact the overall health and well-being of millions.

The world’s most common chronic disease may not be what you think. Not heart disease. Not diabetes. It’s not related to the gut or the kidneys or the eyes. It’s in the mouth. 

Cavities are the most common chronic disease in the world, and nearly half of the world’s population suffers from oral diseases, such as periodontal disease, or disease of the gums. And these oral health conditions have impacts far beyond the mouth.

For instance, aside from the conditions associated with the disease itself, periodontal disease can also provide signals of new or worsening disease and serve as a marker of systemic inflammation, complicating diabetes control, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Unlike other, more visible facets of oral health like tooth whiteness or alignment, recognizing the signs of periodontal problems can be difficult. 

“It’s not as sexy as the rest of dentistry,” Dr. Maria Ryan, Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer at Colgate, said during a 2021 National Health Research Forum fireside chat. “If it doesn’t hurt or if it doesn’t need to be whitened, then most people don’t pay much attention to [gum health]. I think there’s this misperception that your head is not connected to your body — that inflammation in the mouth won’t impact one’s overall health.”

Dr. Maria Ryan, Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer at Colgate, spoke with the Delta Dental Institute on the importance of oral health literacy.

Colgate is on a mission to dispel this myth. With initiatives like the public health campaign Know Your OQ, we may finally be able to see the impact our routine brushing habits have on our health.

An Invisible Disease No More

Launched in February 2022, the Know Your OQ oral health literacy campaign is part of Colgate-Palmolive’s $100 million five-year oral health commitment to address a global health crisis affecting nearly half the world’s population and ensure oral health is incorporated into broader public health strategies. 

Knowing your OQ, or oral health quotient, links oral health with its impact on overall health and well-being, educating people that a healthy mouth leads to a healthier future. Like IQ and EQ, it’s a dynamic value that can change with time. By providing people with a tangible OQ “score,” Colgate empowers them to make healthy changes that will improve their score over time. 

“We’re on a mission to help people increase their oral health knowledge with Know Your OQ,” Ryan said. “If we all understand the importance of oral health and embrace simple, proven preventative strategies, we can help decrease the risk for oral diseases and empower people worldwide to join in the fight against oral diseases that impact overall health and well-being.”

Learn more about Know Your OQ here.