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It's the 10th anniversary of National Dental Hygiene Month! Every October, we celebrate the work of dental professionals and raise awareness of good oral health. Oral health is sometimes overlooked, but did you know that your mouth is the gateway to your overall health? A healthy body really does begin in the mouth, and National Dental Hygiene Month is a valuable reminder of that.
The American Dental Association focuses on four routines that can help people maintain healthy smiles:
You're already familiar with all of these, but are you familiar with the guidelines for proper care established by the American Dental Association (ADA) and American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA)? With the proper oral care techniques and the highest-quality supplies, you can ensure that you're maintaining the best possible dental health.
Did you know that there is in fact, a proper brushing technique? According to the ADA, you should brushing your teeth twice a day, for two minutes with a soft-bristled toothbrush. The size and shape of the brush should fit your mouth properly, allowing you to reach all areas easily.
Also according to the ADA, you should use a five step technique to ensure the health of your teeth and gums.
Step 1: Place your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to your gums. This ensures that you reach all of the necessary places where tartar and plaque build up.
Step 2: Gently move your toothbrush back and forth in short strokes. Brushing in a rough manner will only irritate your gums, cause them to swell, and possibly cause them to bleed.
Step 3: Brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This will help clear out bacteria that have settled in your mouth.
Step 4: To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically, and make several up and down strokes. Sometimes, brushing horizontally does not allow you to clean your teeth properly.
Step 5: Brush your tongue. Yes, it's true. You should brush your tongue to remove the remaining bacteria, and keep your breath fresh. Contrary to popular belief, your breath is a by-product from what is in your stomach and on your tongue, not what is on your teeth.
Flossing is also hugely beneficial to cleaning between your teeth. Flossing allows you to get between the teeth to remove plaque that was not, or can not be removed by brushing. If left too long, plaque can harden into tartar. The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day.
Teeth alone account for less than half of the mouth. That's why oral rinses were created. Rinsing can help eliminate biofilm and bacteria that brushing and flossing alone cannot. Rinsing often, along with brushing and flossing, helps reduce the chance of dental decay and infection.
Finally, some clinical studies have recently shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay. The chewing of sugarless gum increases the flow of saliva, which washes away food and other bacteria, neutralizes acids produced by the bacteria in the mouth, and provides disease fighting substances throughout the mouth.
Remember, oral health is crucial to your overall health and wellbeing. Many diseases begin in the mouth and can quickly travel through the bloodstream. As we get older, dental care is even more important simply because of the conditions that lack of oral care can cause, such as:
All of these conditions are serious and can lead to even bigger health problems. By maintaining our oral health, we are taking the steps to protect the rest of our body from serious medical conditions.