October is National Dental Hygiene Month. Across the country, dental hygienists promote proper dental care to their clients every day. While most of us know how to properly care for our teeth, we often don’t take the time to do it.
- Brushing: The best way to remove harmful plaque from your teeth is to brush for at least two minutes, twice a day. By removing plaque, you will lower your risk for cavities, gum disease and tooth loss. To learn how to brush properly, visit the American Dental Hygienists’ Association’s website.
- Daily flossing: Flossing your teeth once a day also removes plaque and food particles that brushing cannot reach. Make sure you use the right floss for the alignment of your teeth. Floss can vary in thickness, coating and even flavor. If you find flossing difficult, your dental hygienist may recommend other tools to remove plaque such as floss threaders, stimudents (sort of like toothpicks) and devices that clean between the teeth with a mixture of air and water. To learn the most effective way to floss, visit the American Dental Hygienists’ Association’s website.
- Rinsing with mouthwash: An anti-microbial mouth rinse can reduce your risk for gingivitis or gum disease, along with freshening your breath.
- Chewing sugar-free gum: Chewing sugar-free gum, if you cannot brush after meals, also defends against decay by stimulating release of saliva. Saliva protects teeth by preventing acids produced by the plaque from breaking down tooth enamel.
- Go for a dental check-up twice a year: Regular cleanings and check-ups with your dental hygienist and dentist can do more than prevent cavities. They may also find signs of diseases, like diabetes and mouth cancer, during the exam. An unhealthy mouth has also been linked to greater risk for heart disease.