October is here, which means lots of decorations and candy for Halloween. Luckily, to go with all that candy, October is also National Dental Hygiene Month!
The History of National Dental Hygiene Month
National Dental Hygiene Month is an annual celebration observed in October. It’s meant as a yearly reminder for the nation to practice the daily habits that promote healthy teeth and gums.
In 2009 National Dental Hygiene Month came about thanks to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (known more commonly as ADHA) and Wrigley, the famous gum company.
They saw the need to focus on stellar oral health, and what better way to do that than by dedicating an entire month to educating people on and practicing good oral health habits.
How to Observe National Dental Hygiene Month
Firstly, you can practice good oral hygiene. Secondly, you can spread awareness about the importance of oral health. Good breath, strong teeth, and clean gums are all essential parts of your oral health. Listen to your dentist and orthodontist when they tell you to brush and floss daily and get regular checkups.
These are specific steps you can take to practice good oral health:
Floss Every Day
Flossing with your braces will help you get rid of food that may get trapped inside your braces and between your teeth. Colgate recommends that when flossing with braces, it is best to use waxed floss with a floss threader. Waxed floss can slip between each tooth easier without catching on to your braces. Gently slide the floss up into the gum line of both teeth before removing the floss and threader and going to the next tooth. Water flossers are a good solution for flossing.
Brush Twice a Day for Two Minutes
Brush your teeth four times a day — after each meal and before you go to bed. When you brush, make sure to keep the brush at a 45-degree angle. This angle helps keep plaque from building up along the gum line. While you are wearing braces, replace your toothbrush every two months. The metal from the brackets wears down the toothbrush faster than usual.
Rinse With Mouthwash
Another thing that people think is optional with oral hygiene is mouthwash. But, according to dental hygienists, it should not be. Aim to make rinsing with mouthwash a regular occurrence after you brush and floss. This antimicrobial rinse will help keep your mouth clean and will do wonders for your breath.
You should follow these steps outside of October too, but this is the perfect time to get started on it.
Why Oral Health is Important
Your oral health is more important than you might realize. Good oral health translates to good health overall.
Dental problems such as cavities or gum disease can impair your ability to eat and speak correctly, cause pain and bad breath.
Many people may not realize that poor dental health can negatively affect areas in the body outside of the mouth, including your heart. In our last month’s blog, we explained how oral health for an athlete is essential.
Enjoy Your Halloween Candy
We know that Halloween wouldn’t be any fun without candy. Just watch out for the types of candy that can damage braces. Here are lists of some of the candy to avoid but also what you can have:
Candies And Food to Avoid
- Hard candies such as Jolly Ranchers, Brach’s hard candies, Life Savers.
- Chewy candies such as Starburst, Swedish Fish, Skittles, Brach’s chewy candies
- Hard pretzels
- Popcorn balls
Candies And Food You Can Enjoy
- Soft chocolate such as Hershey kisses or Hershey bars
- Peanut butter cups
- Candy Corn
- Cotton Candy
- Cup Cakes
- Cookies (without nuts)
- Gelatin treats
- Ice cream
- Root beer floats
- Apple cider
Oral hygiene is even more critical when you are wearing braces. When wearing braces, plaque accumulates along the gum line and around the brackets, increasing the chance of cavities and gum disease. But, by following these simple steps, you can always have a healthy mouth, which contributes to a healthy body. And you can look forward to your beautiful smile when you complete your braces treatment!
Dr. David McDonough