You’ve probably heard of the term self-care on TV or read it somewhere in a magazine article. Maybe you’ve seen in a book title at a bookstore/library. You might think it’s a “buzzword” or something that isn’t for everyone. But let me tell you, it most certainly is for everyone!
So, What Is Self-Care?
Self-care is a broad term used to describe ANYTHING* you do to be good to yourself. It can be as simple as listening to music, watching your favourite TV show, exercising, meditating, cooking, reading or even taking a bath. It’s about being kind and compassionate to yourself, as you would be to others. It’s about looking after your physical, mental and emotional health.
Many of us are guilty of always giving our all to our work, our family and friends. Essentially, putting others first.
But how is this any good if it means we end up feeling drained and tired because we haven’t taken the time to take care of ourselves?
*Not anything and everything that feels good is self-care. Unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs, smoking, alcohol and over-eating are self-destructive and only provide temporary relief. When self-care is practiced correctly, it provides long-term benefits to our body, mind and soul.
Areas of Self-Care
In order to care for others, you need to first take care of yourself. There are 5 different aspects to self-care which include:
Self-Care Is Non-Negotiable
Self-care is as basic a necessity as brushing your teeth or filling the tank of your car with petrol. Without it, we run on empty and very quickly, burn out. When we don’t practice self-care, our mental, emotional and physical health suffers.
However, one of the main excuses people make for ignoring self-care activities is that they just don’t have the time. But it doesn’t have to be difficult or require a lot of planning. Everyone’s approach to self-care is different. When you find something that fits in with your life and values, it becomes as easier to practice it.
What Does Self-Care Have to Do with Oral Health?
When I say brushing your teeth is a necessity, that’s because it is. If we don’t brush our teeth twice a day, every day, we risk suffering from tooth decay and gum disease. Both of these oral health diseases lead to tooth loss which then results in a whole host of other issues.
Without teeth, you won’t be able to smile properly. You won’t be able to talk properly because you can’t pronounce the words. You can’t chew and eat properly making getting proper nutrition difficult. You age prematurely because your cheeks lack support and sink inwards.
And then of course, there are the issues that go unnoticed and unspoken.
Poor oral health leads to increased risk of heart diseases, stroke, obesity, stomach ulcers, oral cancers and dementia. It’s these more insidious effects of poor oral health that is rarely spoken about, but they make a massive impact on your health.
As you can see, your oral health isn’t only limited to the health of your teeth and gums. It actually affects your overall health, both physically and mentally.
How Do I Practice Good Oral Care?
All you have to do is spend 2 minutes, in the morning and before bed, brushing your teeth.
And another 2 minutes flossing your teeth at night.
That’s it! 6 minutes a day dedicated to taking care of your oral health.
And of course, we have to visit the dentist for a professional check-up and clean every 6 or 12 months, depending on your risks.
A comprehensive examination performed by your dentist helps to identify and diagnose any issues early on so they can be treated right away, with less fuss and expense. This is especially important in the management of an infection, tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancers.
A professional scale and polish removes plaque and calculus from beneath the gum line and in between your teeth where the toothbrush bristles simply just cannot reach. Professional removal of plaque and calculus should be performed at regular intervals, as recommended by your dentist, to help to prevent gum disease.
For all the above, that’s just another 1 to 2 hours in a whole year spent at the dentist so you can have the best oral health.
Make It A Priority
Taking care of yourself shouldn’t feel self-indulgent or selfish. We all need it and we must all practice it.
In order to take care of others, you first need to take care of yourself. Think of it this way: When you are on an airplane, they always say “In the event of an emergency, please put on your oxygen mask before assisting others”.
So, practice self-care so that you can continue to take care of others and make sure that you practice good oral care for the benefit of your physical and mental health.
Jasmine Ooi BPharm