Fun facts and suggestions to raise awareness about oral health
Every month is a good month to take special care of your teeth and mouth, but since October is Dental Hygiene Month, we wanted to share some facts and tips to ensure your mouth is as happy and healthy as possible.
Did You Know?
- By age 17, approximately 78% of Americans have developed at least one cavity. How many cavities have you had?
- It's recommended that you replace your toothbrush every two to three months. You should also toss toothbrushes after being sick, so you don't get reinfected.
- Tree twigs were the first toothbrushes. Aren't you happy we live in modern times?
- Eating apples, celery, or carrots can help remove loose food. One more reason to eat your fruits and veggies!
- Sugary drinks like soda and sports drink can contribute to decay and cavities. Reach for water instead to keep your teeth healthy and strong!
- Tobacco use can put you at risk for oral cancers? If you’re a smoker, try to kick the habit!
- Like fingerprints, people have their own tongue prints and teeth prints. Does it make you wonder what yours look like?
- Dental plaque consists of more than 300 types of bacteria. Yuck!
- The first licensed female dentist was Lucy Beaman Hobbs. She became a dentist in 1866.
What you can do to promote healthy dental hygiene
You probably have a dental hygiene routine already in place, but here are a few simple suggestions and reminders that might kick yours into a higher gear:
- Daily care should consist of brushing, flossing, and rinsing. Believe it or not, chewing gum (sugar-free) after a meal can also help loosen food pieces, fend off bacteria by increasing saliva, and fight plaque build-up and tooth decay.
- Brush twice a day and make sure you pay attention to cleaning each tooth completely: the inside, outside and surface of each one. While most people spend around one minute brushing, dentists recommend that you spend two to three minutes! If you aren't sure how long you are dedicating to toothbrushing, set a timer.
- Many people might be tempted to skip flossing, but it's an important tool for maintaining healthy teeth. It grabs the pieces of food in between your teeth that your toothbrush can't reach while also helping prevent plaque, which could then turn to tartar.
- Rinsing with an alcohol-free mouthwash cleans and refreshes your mouth and breath.
- Schedule two visits a year to your dentist for routine cleanings and check-ups. In between these regular maintenance visits, if something doesn't feel quite right (pain, swelling, bleeding and sore gums, or mouth sores), call to schedule an exam. Your dentist and his/her team can help assure you nothing is wrong or get you back onto a healthy path with treatment. Putting off dental work can often lead to more pain and stress than having a problem addressed as soon as it arises.
Paying attention to dental hygiene is an important part of taking care of your body so that you can be as physically fit as possible. Creating a consistent cleaning and maintenance routine will help you keep your mouth healthy and hopefully lead to many more years of smiles!
This article is part of the Harris Casel Institute’s weekly blog.