National Dental Hygiene Month
October is National Dental Hygiene Month. Sponsored annually by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA), National Dental Hygiene Month is a month-long observance of the importance of proper oral hygiene. Observed in October, with a specific theme chosen by ADHA, this event is a chance to recognize the contributions of dental hygienists towards the promotion of good oral health.
The focus on NDHM this year centers around the four components of good oral health maintenance: brushing teeth twice daily, flossing every day, rinsing with antimicrobial mouth rinse and chewing sugar-free gum. Dental hygienists are encouraged to remind patients to “Do the daily 4” and, during each dental office visit, start a conversation with them on how integrating good oral health-care habits into their daily routine will benefit not just their oral health, but also contribute to improved overall health.
1. BRUSH 2 TIMES A DAY – Always brush two minutes, two times a day, every day
Research shows that brushing for two minutes is the single most important method for reducing plaque and preventing cavities, gingivitis and other plaque-related diseases. Brushing for two minutes twice a day is crucial to maintaining healthy smiles. Proper brushing technique cleans teeth and gums effectively.
2. FLOSS DAILY – Ensure Flossing is a Daily Habit
Daily flossing (or other methods of interdental cleaning) removes plaque and food particles that cannot be reached by a toothbrush, particularly under the gumline and between teeth. Failure to do so can allow for plaque buildup in these areas – which in turn can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
Getting into the routine of daily flossing can be a challenge. Making flossing easier can improve compliance with recommendations for daily flossing. If you resist flossing, try to determine why and tell your dental hygienist. Knowing the precise reason you are not flossing will enable them to recommend floss with the right thickness, coating or filaments so you might be encouraged to floss more often.
3. RINSE WITH MOUTHWASH – Use mouthwash to improve oral health
Rinsing your mouth with an anti-microbial mouth rinse each day is another important step you can take to prevent gum disease (gingivitis). Remember that the teeth themselves account for less than half of your mouth, so brushing and flossing alone cannot eliminate all plaque and germs. Be sure to finish your oral care routine with an antiseptic mouthwash that carries the ADA Seal of Acceptance. You also should talk with your dental hygienist to determine which mouth rinse is right for you.
4. CHEW SUGAR-FREE GUM – Chewing sugar-free gum after eating can help fight tooth decay
Research shows that chewing sugarfree gum after meals and snacks helps protect your teeth, complementing a healthy oral care routine. After eating or drinking, bacteria in the plaque on teeth produce acid, and plaque pH can decrease to an unsafe level. This can cause demineralization that, over time, weakens teeth and can lead to decay. Chewing stimulates the salivary glands to increase their flow rate by up to 10 times during the first few minutes of chewing and the flavors in sugarfree gum also increase the quantity of saliva in the mouth. When brushing isn’t possible after eating or drinking, chewing sugarfree gum, like Orbit, stimulates saliva, which can help clean food particles and neutralize plaque acids on the teeth, as well as helping to back mineral density in teeth by shifting the equilibrium from demineralization to remineralization.
For a variety of resources and helpful tips that you can use, visit ADHA National Dental Hygiene Month.