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Promoting Communal Wellness

​Topics covered:

  • Sexual Health

  • Oral Hygiene

  • Isolation and Loneliness (Community Engagement)

Promoting Communal Wellness

Sexual Health

Image by Jared Rice

Do you recall that one classmate who dared to say the word ‘sex’ in class and received embarrassed looks from classmates, and a warning glare from the teacher? Or the times when you were watching a television show and a sex scene came on and your parents quickly changed the channel? In our Asian culture, we have often been raised to feel shy or shameful about sex and are taught that it is not something to be openly talked about.  However, to have good sexual health and wellbeing, we need to talk about sex, demystify it and break the stigma associated with it!  

In our Sex Ed classes, we would have all learned about abstinence, the use of contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to protect ourselves against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) - all of which are very important to our sexual health. But did you know that sexual health is more than protecting ourselves physically? 

According to the World Health Organisation,  sexual health is defined as a “state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality”. What this includes is: 

  • Being able to freely express your sexuality (your desires, values, identities, behaviours, thoughts and beliefs)

  • Having a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships 

  • Having pleasurable and safe sex free of coercion, discrimination and violence

  • Having the sexual rights of all persons respected, protected and fulfilled 



Embrace and express your sexuality 

  • Understand that sex is part of our biological nature and as human beings, we are wired to desire, have and enjoy sex

  • Accept that there is no shame in desiring, having or enjoying sex

  • Allow yourself to feel comfortable about your sexual desires and give yourself permission to explore these desires in a safe and mutually respectful way 

Be positive and respectful in sexual relationships

  • Communicate openly with your partner about your sexuality and listen to theirs

  • Even before you engage in sexual activities, discuss which sexual activities you both feel safe and comfortable to engage in and which ones you do not.

    • What do you want to do?” “Would you like it if I…?” or “Tell me what you want.”

  • Respect your partner’s desires and boundaries. Even after sexual activity has begun, you both can say stop or change your mind and both partners should respect that

  • If there are issues that make you feel uncomfortable, share with your partner privately and in a safe space. E.g. “I feel… when…” 

Practice safe sex 

  • Use a condom to contracting prevent STDs

  • Advocate for yourself. If your partner does not want to wear condoms or does not want you to wear condoms during sexual activity, speak up

  • Be aware of your choices of birth controls to protect yourself. If your choice of birth control fails, there are different emergency contraceptives you can take to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Seek a pharmacist or doctor for support immediately

Why is oral hygiene important for the community?

Why Oral Hygiene is Important to the Community
Potential Consequences of Untreated Oral Diseases: 

  • Physical: Dental pain, Missing teeth

    • Can lead to undernutrition or malnutrition due to the difficulty of chewing and swallowing

    • Lack of nutrition can affect the development and healing process from oral cavities or diseases

    • Periodontal disease and obesity can increase risk of unbalanced inflammation and infection

    • Poor oral health is associated with general health conditions and increases risk for chronic diseases (cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes, and respiratory diseases)

  • Psychological/ Emotional: Quality of life, Productivity, Self-esteem

    • Good oral health can enhance individual's self-image and self-esteem and thus, overall well-being

    • Poor oral health can affect speech which can contribute to social anxiety

  • Social: Lost school and work days, Disruption to family life

Eating Habits for Good Oral Health

  • Healthy, Balanced Diet: Good choices of food and eating habits helps to prevent tooth decay and gingival disease

  • Nutrition Intake: 

    • Minerals (Calcium and Phosphorus) help to protect and rebuild tooth enamel (protective layer of tooth)

      • Example of foods: Cheese, Milk, Plain yoghourt, Tofu, Vegetables, Almonds, Meat, Poultry, Fish, Milk, Eggs

    • Water with Fluoride helps keep mouth clean and prevent dry mouth and cavities

    • Fibres stimulate saliva which helps to clean the teeth and prevent tooth decay

      • Examples of foods: Fruits and Vegetables

    • Vitamin C and Vitamin A helps to build tooth enamel and is important for healthy gingiva and healing

      • Examples of foods: Fruits and Vegetables

    • Limit Alcoholic drinks

      • High acidity can erode tooth enamel and cause dry mouth

    • Green and Black teas as alternatives

      • Contain polyphenols that kill or hold back plaque bacteria, preventing it from growing further

    • Be mindful of starchy foods that get stuck in mouth

      • Soft breads, potato chips can get trapped between teeth

  • ​​Snack in Moderation: Avoid prolonged snacking and sugar-sweetened beverages

    • Excessive intake of added sugar can lead to tooth decay and other chronic diseases

    • Plague that forms on teeth uses the sugar we consume to form acid that attacks tooth enamel

    • Identifying added sugars can be difficult and it is important to read the nutrition food label before purchasing

  • Avoid using tobacco products

    • High risk of developing mouth or oral cancer, gum problems, decay 

    • If you are smoking or vaping, consider looking for resources to quit

Good Habits and Practices for Good Oral Health

  • How often should I floss? How should I floss?

    • Brush teeth twice a day

      • Helps to remove food residue and plaque

      • Prevents tooth decay and gum disease

      • Brush thoroughly using a manual or electric toothbrush and ensure that you brush every surface of your teeth in a circular motion (Inside surface, Outside surface and Chewing surfaces)

      • Spit out any excess toothpaste after brushing your teeth and do not immediately rinse your teeth with water after brushing

      • Replace your toothbrush every three months as brushing with a worn-out toothbrush with missing bristles will not help to clean your teeth properly and thoroughly

    • Floss once a day to remove dental plaque


How often should I visit the dentist?

  • Visit dentist at least once a year, or ideally twice a year even if you have no natural teeth or are using dentures

  • Visit dentist if you experience any sudden changes in taste or smell

Combating isolation and loneliness through community engagement

With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the discussion of social isolation and loneliness among the elderly has been placed under the spotlight. The pandemic has exacerbated this constant underlying social problem by forcing elderlies to be in situations where their social interactions are significantly limited. Common activities like hanging out at void-deck with friends or mingling at day activity centres were removed altogether. Although the pandemic has impacted everyone, it has impacted the elderly significantly more given that most might not be adept at using technology as a replacement given their generally lower levels of technological literacy (DukeNUS Medical School, 2021). Given that the pandemic restrictions have been lifted, the aftereffects of the social isolation and loneliness can now be addressed with physical activities through the community.

Social isolation and loneliness have been linked to a wide range of negative health outcomes such as depression, anxiety, overall dissatisfaction of the quality of life, and even premature death. Psychologically, anxiety from losing a sense of connection over a prolonged period of time can warp one’s worldview, resulting in a sense of feeling threatened and misstrustful (Hawkley and Cacioppo, 2010). In addition, a sense of loneliness may also result in cells experiencing greater inflammation over a long period of time which increases the risk of chronic diseases (Cole et al., 2015). The impact on both physical and mental health can be significant, and community engagement is an effective way of dealing with this problem. This can take the form of activities such as participating in community activities, joining clubs, and even outings organised by services and organizations such as Young-at-Heart programme, Agency for Integrated Care, or even Lion Befrienders. These activities gives a sense of companionship, comfort, and create a sense of interconnectedness with the community (Wu, 2020). With the restrictions now lifted, taking part in such community based activities can promote healthy aging in general, with a study finding that relationships and social engagement are key factors in maintaining physical and mental health (The Harvard Gazette, 2017).

As the public, we can volunteer at such services as it provides our presence and company to the elderly. Many elderly face a decline in social interactions as they age by function of the passage of time, such as losing their spouse and friends, and mobility issues. Volunteering at such services gives us the opportunity to provide simple gestures such as asking if they have been well or offering a listening ear. These small acts of kindness  goes a long way in creating value in their lives and allow a chance for the elderlies to feel heard. In addition, volunteering can provide volunteers with a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Having an intergenerational connection also allows volunteers to listen and learn from the experiences and stories of these elderlies, creating value and meaning in both the volunteers and participants. 

Check out our other guides!

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