Since 2009, American’s have been celebrating National Dental Hygiene Month in October. This month long campaign recognizes dental hygienists for their hard work, and seeks to raise awareness of oral health best practices. It’s a good reminder of the important things you can do to maintain excellent oral health.
Dental Hygiene Month starts with our Dental Hygienists
The dental hygienist is the professional in the dentist’s office who does cleanings and helps you to proactively keep your teeth in good shape. They provide valuable information and teach us important practices, such as how to brush teeth properly. The American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA.org) is the sponsor of National Dental Hygiene Month. The ADHA was founded back in 1923, and is the largest national organization representing the over 185,000 registered dental hygienists in the US. The co-sponsor of this event is Wrigley, the chewing gum company. ADHA is a non-profit and partnering with a corporate sponsor allows them to get their message out to more people.
What are the Daily 4?
The main goal of National Dental Hygiene Month is to increase our dental health by instilling the “Daily 4” best practices. The dentist can’t do it all. We have to do our part to enable our teeth to last a lifetime, and to protect ourselves from dental related diseases. The four best practices (supported by the American Dental Association) are:
Brush – Brush teeth twice a day with a proper fitting toothbrush that allows you to reach all areas of your mouth. This is especially important for children. Using a 45-degree angle to the gums, brush inner, outer and top surfaces. For the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and move it up and down. Replace that toothbrush every 3-4 months.
Floss – The ADA recommends flossing once a day. The correct way to do this will make a difference, and it’s better to floss after you brush. Flossing after brushing will allow the fluoride in your toothpaste to reach into those in between spaces of your teeth. If you are having a hard time flossing correctly, ask your hygienist to show you how.
Rinse – Swishing a mouthwash product, or even just water, is the next step after a good brushing and flossing. The rinse is spit out, not swallowed, so it is important to teach children about this practice only when they are old enough to understand that. Rinsing can help clean the cheeks, tongue and back of the throat, which freshens breath and kills germs. The ADHA recommends using a mouthwash without alcohol, and this can be used anytime throughout the day.
Chew – While not everyone will choose to chew gum, if you do chew it, make it sugar free gum. Chewing sugar free gum is included in the Daily 4 for two reasons. It can help increase saliva, which is beneficial in fighting disease and bad breath. It can also assist with removal of excess food from the teeth. Consult your dentist or dental hygienist about chewing gum if you have concerns about teeth grinding or TMJ as this can make these conditions worse.
While the best practices of National Dental Hygiene Month are highlighted in October, good dental habits benefit us all year round. Ask your dental hygienist for more information, or schedule a cleaning and consultation with us today.