Category Archives: Dental Hygiene

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

Each February, the American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. Their 2022 theme is “Sealants Make Sense.”

Sealants are a fast and easy way to protect teeth in cavity-prone areas like the molars. They are usually applied to the chewing surfaces and sometimes cover deep pits and grooves. According to Irene Hilton, D.D.S. and chair of the ADA Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention’s advisory committee, “Sealants on permanent molars reduce the risk of cavities by 80%”

Dental sealants are not just for kids! They help healthy teeth withstand pressure regardless of age.

Have You Brushed Your Tongue?

Your parents may have forced you to brush your teeth twice a day when you were little. Extra points if they encouraged you to floss nightly as well. But did your mom or dad ever teach you to brush your tongue?

Since you can’t get cavities there, tongues are often overlooked in oral health routines. Throughout the day bacteria accumulates in crevices allowing microorganisms to stick together on the surface of the tongue. Unfortunately, mouth rinses only destroy the outer cells of this biofilm.

Kill more bacteria in your mouth by brushing your tongue every time you brush your teeth. The steps are simple:

  • brush back and forth
  • brush side to side
  • rinse your mouth with water

Some people prefer to use a tongue scraper from their local drugstore.

Whether you are fighting bad breath or cavities, tongue brushing is an easy addition to your daily dental routine. Make it a regular habit!

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Mouthwash: An EASY New Year’s Resolution

Have you considered setting a New Year’s resolution with guaranteed success? If so, nightly rinsing with mouthwash could be just what the dentist ordered!

Mouthwash should be an essential part of your oral health routine. As little as one minute a day can protect your oral health. Simply leave a bottle next to your bathroom sink as a gentle reminder of your resolution.

Documented benefits of fluoride formulas include
1. Strengthening tooth enamel and preventing cavities
2. Freshening your breath
3. Clearing food particles missed by brushing and flossing
4. Reducing the amount of plaque on your teeth
5. Healing canker sores faster

According to a study published in the November issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association, mouth rinses can also reduce the SARS-CoV-2 viral load in saliva. The author of the study explains, “Rinsing for 60 seconds can reduce the salivary loads of SARS-CoV-2 for 45 minutes.” While there is no evidence that mouthwash actually kills the virus, pre-procedural mouthwash is now a common practice. Maintain your oral health in 2022 with a good home care routine including mouthwash, brushing, flossing, dental checkups and regular professional cleanings.

Here’s to a great year ahead — and a simple, one-minute resolution that will be easy to keep!

Dental Care Remains Important After Leaving the Nest

Young people head off to college every September. Living on their own for the first time, students may not prioritize routine dental care. During this transitional period, parents can encourage healthy diet and lifestyle choices that help nearly-grown children avoid slipping into bad habits.

Hopefully young adults have already developed good hygiene habits that reduce the chance of dental decay and infection. Gently remind students to brush their teeth twice a day, floss daily, and use mouth wash to kill bacteria. Continue to schedule regular dental checkups and professional cleanings at least twice a year.

While college students may not correlate a healthy diet with a healthy mouth, the food choices they make can and will affect their dental health. Disease-causing oral bacteria thrive on carbohydrates like sugar and secrete acids that can erode tooth enamel. Selecting fresh fruits and vegetables instead of processed snacks will limit sugar consumption and lower the risk of decay. Consider renting or purchasing a mini-fridge for the dorm room to make healthy snack options more accessible.

The dangers of alcohol and drug use on campus are well documented. However, most people do not know that consuming alcohol and smoking tobacco inhibits the secretion of saliva which neutralizes acids and fights infection. Over time dry mouth increases the risk of both tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease.

College is also an important time for self expression. If possible, steer your young adults away from mouth piercings. The constant movement and friction erodes enamel and contributes to the shrinking back of the gums (recession). Let your child know that lip and tongue hardware has been known to chip teeth causing potentially painful and expensive repairs.

Finally, be sure to have a conversation about safe sex. Some forms of sexual activity increase the risk for contracting the human papilloma virus (HPV16) which raises the risk of oral cancer, a rare but deadly disease with a poor survival rate.

Above all, explain to your newly-independent child that inattention to dental health can have consequences that plague them long after graduation. Help steer them toward good habits that will protect their lives, teeth, and gums.

Adults Are Not Immune to Dental Problems

Fresh breath, strong teeth and healthy gums are vital to your overall health. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends focusing on the Daily 4 to help people maintain healthy smiles.

BRUSH
Brush your teeth twice a day, for two minutes, with a soft-bristled brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. The size and shape of your brush should fit your mouth and easily reach the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces in your mouth. Don’t forget to brush your tongue to remove bacteria and keep your breath fresh.

FLOSS
You may have read recent reports questioning the benefits of flossing, but the ADA still recommends cleaning between your teeth once a day. Flossing will remove any plaque missed by brushing and prevent plaque from hardening into tartar.

RINSE
Mouth wash kills bacteria in the mouth and may reduce your chance of dental decay and infection.

CHEW
Clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals increases the flow of saliva, washing away food debris and preventing tooth decay. Gum also neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth.

Remember that adults are not immune to dental problems. Cutting back on tobacco use and sugary drinks will help maintain your oral health. In addition to maintaining a good home care routine, schedule regular dental checkups and professional cleanings at least twice a year.