BSDHT says “Love is in the air… But so is good oral health!”
February is widely known for its iconic Valentine’s Day – a day dedicated to showing the people you love how you feel about them. It is often celebrated with red roses, cards and chocolates, as well as spending time with that special someone (or by going on that nerve-racking first date) by going out to dinner or doing something fun.
The mysterious legend of St Valentine
The history of Valentine’s Day remains somewhat of a mystery. The Catholic Church recognises a few different saints by the name of Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred and remembered for their sympathetic, heroic and romantic gestures. Some stories suggest that the famous Valentine was a priest who performed marriages in secret when Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men of fighting age. Others talk about a prisoner who fell in love with his jailor’s daughter and signed a love letter to her before he died with ‘from your Valentine’ – a phrase still used today. Another idea on how the famous day came about involves the evolution or stopping of the Pagan festival of Lupercalia.
Dating, kissing and oral health
A study by the Oral Health Foundation in 2014  considered what attributes men and women found most attractive in their partners. With personality coming out on top, a good smile came second for women and third for men. This is supported by various other polls over the years that all emphasise the importance of a bright and beautiful smile when trying to meet that special someone.
As we all know, oral hygiene plays a big part in achieving this perfect smile. A study has postulated that approximately 80 million bacteria are transferred from one person to another during an intimate kiss of 10 seconds  – so ensuring oral health on both sides is important to prevent the sharing of anything more than the intended kiss! That said, kissing may also reduce the risk of dental caries by increasing salivary flow and helping to remove any food debris left around and between the teeth. It’s more about kissing the right person who values their oral health, rather than not kissing at all then…
Another concern for those going on a first date – whether that be on Valentine’s Day or otherwise – seems to be the potential of bad breath. This could have a very obvious negative effect when meeting someone for the first time and so it’s no surprise that many people worry about it. Again, a simple trip to the dentist or dental hygienist could put such fears to rest – whether that involves ensuring healthy teeth and gums or seeking advice about products that may provide a bit of a confidence boost.
Valentine’s Day provides a reason for many people to visit the dental practice, but as we look ahead to the rest of the year, it’s up to the profession to ensure our patients understand the importance of continuing dental health and frequent appointments. You may decide to do this by designing your marketing around seasonal events and days (with some of the next ones including National No Smoking Day, World Oral Health Day, National Stop Snoring Week and Easter). Alternatively, you may look to interact with your patients through social media competitions, newsletters or email campaigns.
However you do it, engaging with patients on a regular basis in order to impress upon them the importance of oral health in all areas of their lives, is crucial. Valentine’s Day might be over for another year, but it remains essential to encourage your patients to show their teeth and gums some love in the coming months!
1] Oral Health Foundation. Your oral health valentine. 14 Feb 2014. https://www.dentalhealth.org/blog/blogdetails/102 [Accessed December 2017]
2] Kort R, Caspers M, van de Graaf A, van Egmond W, Keijser B, Roselers G. Shaping the oral microbiota through intimate kissing. Microbiome 2014 2:41 https://doi.org/10.1186/2049-2618-2-41
Photo by Paz Arando on Unsplash