Dr. Nahid Afshari
KEEPING YOUR MOUTH HEALTHY
NATIONAL DENTAL HYGIENIST MONTH
October is National Hygienist Month. The purpose of this is to recognize and validate hygienists for all the hard work they do to keep our gums and teeth healthy. This is also a good time to raise awareness on the importance of good oral health. Regularly seeing your hygienist and taking care of your teeth at home are both very important to keep you healthy and protect your valuable teeth.
Additionally, this month we celebrate Halloween. And of course, with Halloween comes lots of candy. So it’s the perfect month to talk about how to stay cavity free and enjoy your candy too.
As kids we often here that sugar causes cavities. Well that’s partly the case. But it is not the candy alone that causes cavities. So let’s take a look at how cavities are made and why dental hygiene is so important.
When you eat, bacteria in your mouth feeds on the starches and sugars in the food. This creates acid. The acids then combine with bacteria, food particles and saliva to form plaque on your teeth. Plaque is a sticky film that covers the teeth. The acids in plaque remove minerals in your tooth's hard, outer enamel. This causes tiny openings or holes in the enamel and is how a cavity starts
If plaque is not removed regularly and completely, minerals in your saliva combine with plaque to form crystals that harden into tartar. Tartar also collects bacteria. Additionally, it creates a protective shield for bacteria and causes irritation along the gum line. This can lead to gum disease. Tartar cannot be removed with regular brushing. You need professional dental cleaning to remove tartar.
The Four Routines
This year the awareness month is focusing on four routines that will help you and your loved ones have healthy smiles.
Brush: The ADA recommends brushing your teeth twice a day, for two minutes, with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of the brush should fit the mouth allowing you to reach all areas easily.
Floss: Flossing is not a step to skip on. It helps get rid of food particles below the gum line and in between the teeth that a tooth brush can’t get to.
Rinse: Rinsing can help wash out bacteria that brushing and flossing cannot. Along with brushing and flossing, rinsing may help reduce the chance of dental decay and infection.
Chew: Finally, clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay. The chewing of sugarless gum increases the flow of saliva. The saliva helps wash away food. Also, according to ADA org it neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth and provides disease-fighting substances throughout the mouth. If you prefer gum without any chemicals, Prevention provides a list 8 gums that are not loaded with chemicals and some are sugar free.