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National Oral Hygiene Month: 5 Tips to Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

October is National Dental Hygiene Month, a time when oral health practitioners, hygienists, organizations and advocates raise awareness on the importance of good oral health.  

To most, oral hygiene probably seems pretty simple and straightforward: brush your teeth twice daily and floss regularly. But, keeping your mouth healthy is more than just that daily routine, and more important to overall health than many people may realize.  

So, let’s break it down. 

The links between oral health and overall health — between the mouth and the body — are increasingly clear. Research indicates that oral health has impacts beyond the mouth, exhibiting that it’s about much more than just a smile. For example, delaying dental care during early childhood is linked to a higher risk of blood pressure later in life.  

Gum disease also has negative impacts on your overall health. In fact, people with gum disease are three times more likely to have a stroke involving blood vessels in the back of the brain. Researchers also found that the odds of having a first heart attack were 28% higher for people with gum disease than for those without. Additionally, gum disease is connected to difficulty managing diabetes, risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and can lead to possible pregnancy complications such as preterm births and low birthweight babies.  

With such significant connections to overall health and wellbeing, maintaining good oral hygiene is a no-brainer. Here are five things everyone should know in order to properly take care of their oral health: 

  1. Brush your teeth — This seems obvious, but it’s important! When brushing your teeth, follow the 2 X 2 rule: two minutes of brushing, two times a day. Brushing twice a day removes bacteria and plaque that can cause tooth decay and gum disease. To effectively brush your teeth, use a soft-bristle brush and brush on all sides of your teeth. Need a refresher on how to properly brush your teeth? Check out these brushing tips.  

  2. Floss — Did you know that 58% of people don’t floss at all? You may forget about flossing, or may not like it, but it’s important to your oral hygiene. Flossing helps to keep your mouth clean, keeps bits of food from getting stuck between your teeth and removes plaque. Visit the American Dental Association for a useful guide on how to floss your teeth if you’re unsure about your technique.  

  3. Rinse —  Mouthwash is another useful tool to add to your oral health routine. While it’s not a replacement for brushing and flossing, mouth rinsing can get in-between the teeth to areas a toothbrush won’t reach. If you want to try out a mouthwash, look for products that carry the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance.  

  4. Eat Healthy — The food you eat can also directly impact your oral health. Consuming sugary snacks causes plaque in the mouth to mix with the sugar, which in turn creates acid. The more acid, the more it harms your teeth over time by attacking tooth enamel. Decreasing sugar intake, especially sugary beverages like soda, and replacing it with food or drinks that are high in calcium can help maintain healthier teeth.  

  5. Visit Your Dentist — Last but not least, one of the best ways to take care of your oral hygiene is to visit your dentist regularly. Consistent appointments are important because they can help identify dental health problems early on when treatment is likely to be simpler and more affordable. And, getting regular cleanings at the dentist helps prevent issues from developing in the first place.  

Everybody’s situation is different, so always talk to your dentist about the oral health practices that are best for you. 

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