Happy October, Happy Dental Hygiene Month!

October 31, 2022
woman in green brushing teeth with toothbrush

October brings many things, some of them scary (Boo!) but seeing your dental hygienist doesn’t have to be one of them. On the contrary, by making regular visits to your dental hygienist – as we are reminded each October during National Dental Hygiene Month – you can keep your teeth happy and safe and prevent anything scary (cavities, toothaches, tooth decay) from happening to them. That’s why, this October, instead of candy, we at Westside Dental are bringing you these delicious key facts about good dental hygiene.

Dental Hygiene Isn’t Just One Thing

Dental hygiene is a broad term used to describe the collection of habits that help you maintain healthy teeth. Those habits include:

  • Brushing your teeth at least twice every day
  • Flossing your teeth at least once every day
  • Rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash before brushing and flossing
  • Chewing sugarless gum in between brushing and flossing
  • Visiting your dental hygienist and dentist on a regular basis every year

Dental Hygiene Helps Your Overall Health

It may seem obvious that dental hygiene helps restore, retain, and improve dental health. What may be less obvious, however, is that it also helps protect your overall health.

The health of your mouth is directly tied to the health of the rest of your body. An illness in one can eventually harm the other. For example, if a tooth infection goes without treatment, that infection can spread to your heart, lungs, brain, and so on. Likewise, any health condition associated with inflammation could be tied to an untreated inflammation in the mouth.

Poor dental hygiene has been associated with:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Reduced immune function
  • Reduced mental function
  • Certain types of arthritis
  • Certain types of cancer

These Tips Will Help You Brush More Effectively

To brush your teeth more effectively:

  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles unless your dentist tells you differently.
  • Keep the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the teeth.
  • Brush for two minutes.
  • Brush gently.
  • Use short up-and-down and circular strokes.
  • Brush the front, back, and chewing/biting surfaces of every tooth.
  • Brush both sides of the gums and tongue.
  • Brush twice a day (in the morning and at night) or after every meal.

You Should Change Out Your Toothbrush Regularly

Whether you use a manual (regular) toothbrush or an electric toothbrush, the bristles will eventually start to wear and fray. When this happens, you should replace your old toothbrush or electric toothbrush head with a new one. Otherwise, your brushing won’t be as effective and will get progressively less so. You should change out your toothbrush or toothbrush head at least every three months.

Floss Every Day

Brushing your teeth may be essential for removing much of the food debris, bacteria, and plaque that accumulate on and between the teeth, but it doesn’t remove all of it. Flossing once daily helps remove a lot of the remaining debris, particularly that which is trapped in the small spaces between your teeth.

To floss most effectively:

  1. Set the floss into the space between your teeth against the gums. Rub the floss away from the gums along one side of the space, pulling off bacteria and debris on that side of that tooth. Then, repeat the action with the tooth on the other side of the space.
  2. Set the floss back in the same place and bend it around one of the teeth. Pull the floss up, rubbing the front and back sides of that tooth and pulling off plaque and debris in the process. Then, repeat the process on the other tooth in the space.
  3. Repeat these steps with all the spaces between your teeth.

There Are Extra Ways to Bolster Your Dental Hygiene

While brushing and flossing are indisputably essential at-home dental care habits to practice, they are not the only dental hygiene practices you can benefit from. In addition to brushing and flossing, consider incorporating these into your daily dental care routine.

Rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash before you brush your teeth to remove already loose or easy-to-remove food particles and bacteria helps improve the effectiveness of your tooth-brushing efforts. It also helps protect your mouth by killing off the bacteria in plaque and remineralizes your tooth enamel to help keep it strong.

Chewing sugar-free gum between meals or when you’re unable to brush helps remove bacteria and plaque and helps keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong.

And, speaking of sugar, eating a healthy diet free of excessive sugar helps prevent acids from forming on your teeth that can eat away at your tooth enamel.

Your Dental Hygienist Is Your Partner in Dental Hygiene

While your dentist may be essential for maintaining your oral health, don’t dismiss the invaluable role your dental hygienist plays in this effort as well.

Your dental hygienist is normally the one who:

  • Removes stains, plaque, and tartar from your teeth
  • Applies fluorides and sealants to help protect your teeth
  • Takes and develops dental x-rays
  • Assesses your dental health and reports those findings to your dentist
  • Documents your care and treatment plans
  • Educates you about dental hygiene techniques, like how to brush your teeth correctly

That’s why so much – if not most – of your time in the dentist’s chair, you’ll actually spend with your dental hygienist.

Call us at Westside Dental today to schedule your next appointment with a dental hygienist in Sun Prairie, WI.