Happy October, and Happy National Dental Hygiene Month! We celebrate #DentalHygieneMonth for two great reasons: 1) to recognize the fantastic work of our dental hygienists, and 2) to raise awareness of the importance of good oral hygiene and health!
Good oral health is essential to our general health and well being, but it often gets overlooked. The most important determining factor for good oral health is not necessarily genetics, and it is not even regular dentist visits – it is good, consistent dental hygiene.
How Dental Health & Hygiene Impacts Our Lives
The three most common oral conditions that have the greatest impact on our overall health and quality of life are: 1) cavities; 2) gum disease; and 3) tooth loss. With good and consistent oral hygiene, all three of the aforementioned conditions can nearly always be prevented.
1 in 4 American adults have active cavities
Nearly 1 in 2 American adults have some stage of gum disease
178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth
Nearly 30% of American adults aged 65+ have no natural teeth remaining
And according to the CDC, the annual cost of dental care and emergencies is vast:
Nearly $124 billion spent on dental care annually
34 million school hours lost annually
$45 billion in productivity lost annually
Many people do not realize the profound cost and negative effects that poor oral health has on their general health and well being beyond their mouths and wallets. Cavities, missing teeth and gum disease can cause bad breath, chronic pain, difficulty speaking and eating, self consciousness, and a disadvantage in social and professional settings.
But poor oral health can also cause and/or exacerbate serious health problems throughout the body, such as: heart and lung diseases via the spread of oral bacteria in the bloodstream, pregnancy complications, increased risk of stroke, arthritis, chronic inflammation – to name a few.
The good news is that virtually all of the above complications and hardships can be prevented or greatly mitigated with good dental hygiene – and it’s never too late to start! Of course, we encourage dental hygiene from a very early age, but there is never a downside to beginning a strong oral hygiene routine right now, at whatever age you are and whatever oral health condition you might have.
To misquote a popular saying about trees: “The best time to start a dental hygiene routine is when your first tooth appears. The second best time to start a dental hygiene routine is now.”
Dental Hygiene Basics:
Brush Twice A Day, Every Day
Place brush at a 45° angle to the gums - the most effective angle to sweep away plaque and bacteria buildup from the gumline.
Brush using a gentle, circular motion.
Make sure to thoroughly clean all reachable surfaces of your teeth, including the backs and molars.
Brush your tongue! Lots of bad-breath causing bacteria accumulate there.
Brush for 2 minutes each time, twice a day, every day.
We also recommend: using a fluoride toothpaste and a soft bristled toothbrush, and replacing your toothbrush every 3 months.
Floss Every Day!
Use about an 18” length of floss and grasp or wind the ends firmly between your fingers.
Guide the floss gently between your teeth using a back-and-forth “sawing” motion, following the curve of your tooth into the space between the tooth and gum, and draw the floss all the way out again.
Repeat on each side of the tooth for all your teeth, once a day, every day.
Remember: If you aren’t flossing, you aren’t cleaning 40% of your teeth’s surfaces!
In honor of National Dental Hygiene Month, let’s consider all the ways the health of our mouths can affect our lives. Practice good dental hygiene by brushing and flossing every day!
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