October is National Dental Hygiene Month!
October is an important month for the healthcare world–while the leaves are changing and the air is getting cooler, many are decked out in pink gear commemorating another important health issue. But did you know it’s also National Dental Hygiene Month? Hopefully you think about your own dental hygiene during the other 11 months of the year, too, but these 31 days provide a great opportunity to pick up the slack if we’ve fallen behind.
What’s this month all about?
The American Dental Association partners with the Wrigley Oral Health Program (that’s right-just like Wrigley’s gum!) to “start the conversation”-the campaign’s motto. National Dental Health Month, or NDHM, focuses on our “daily 4” oral care habits: brushing, flossing, rinsing, and chewing.
Did you know your dentist recommends brushing your teeth for 2 minutes at a time at least twice a day? Brushing with a sturdy toothbrush, like an electric toothbrush, helps remove biofilms that are formed by bacteria. Regular brushing helps prevent these bacteria from forming cavities and causing tooth decay.
For many, this is the least enjoyable activity in their oral health routines, but it is one of the most important. The spaces in between our teeth aren’t reachable with our toothbrushes, which makes them highly susceptible to cavities if we forget to floss every day. Flossing right after meals is a great way to ensure that no food gets left between your teeth. If you aren’t able to floss this frequently, shoot for at least once a day, like right before you go to bed.
When you’re taking care of your teeth, don’t forget about the rest of your mouth! Your gums are almost more important than those pearly whites. Gums protect the roots of our teeth that anchor them into our jaws. Rinsing for 30 seconds with mouthwash, or even just warm water, gets rid of bacteria that may be latched onto our gums, cheeks, and tongue.
Saliva isn’t produced in your mouth without a purpose-it is important in neutralizing acids in your mouth, which prevents bacteria from forming plaques on your teeth. Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal has been proven to stimulate saliva production. Be careful, though–too much gum chewing could wear out your jaw. This is something you should talk to your dentist about before making it a post-meal ritual.
By now we’re already over halfway through the month, but there’s still time to make a positive change in your hygiene habits! A great way to remind yourself of what you should be doing for your teeth every day is writing these “daily 4” on a sticky note that you can put on your bathroom mirror. A visual reminder can help you get into the habit of brushing, flossing, rinsing, and chewing every day if you don’t already. Take the next step in your oral health and incorporate these 4 activities into your daily routine!