Besides being the spookiest month of the year, October is also National Dental Hygiene Month. They probably named it that month to try and offset the damage done to teeth from copious amounts of Halloween candy. Whatever the reason, it’s still an important month to celebrate. Let’s look at 4 ways you can help observe this month in style.
The American Dental Association recommends using a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean your teeth twice a day. In addition, they suggest using toothpaste with fluoride, which is a naturally occurring mineral that makes your teeth stronger in the fight against decay. Be sure to not brush too rigorously. Only apply the gentlest pressure you can. Brushing with too much force can actually be abrasive to your teeth.
Although there has been some debate recently about the effectiveness of flossing, your dentist wholeheartedly recommends cleaning between your teeth at least once every day. This is because brushing alone can only clean three of the five surfaces of your teeth. To clean the other 40 percent of your teeth and along your gumline, it’s necessary to floss. Even though it might be awkward to try and brush your teeth in the middle of the day, you can and should still bring a little container of floss with you to work or school to use after lunch. It’s better to clean some parts of your teeth than none.
Did you know that your teeth actually make up less than half your mouth? That means there are lots of areas where brushing and flossing just can’t reach. Using antibacterial mouthwash may reduce your risk of conditions like gum disease and cavities. However, be sure to avoid oral rinses that have alcohol in them. Alcohol can dry out your mouth and actually increase your chances of tooth decay.
Studies have shown that chewing sugar-free gum for about 20 minutes after eating might help keep cavities at bay. This is mainly because the act of chewing sugarless gum stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth. Saliva rinses out excess particles of food and bacteria that cause tooth decay, so in general, you want as much of it as you can get.
Now that you’re aware of National Dental Hygiene Month, hopefully you can start implementing these habits into your daily life. Your teeth and gums will thank you.
About the Author
Dr. Nathan Coughlin is a Board-certified orthodontist who earned his doctorate at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry. He currently practices at Breckinridge Dental & Orthodontics in Richardson, TX. To learn more dental hygiene tips from Dr. Coughlin, contact him via his website or by calling (972) 248-9119.