Oral surgeons across the United States are encouraging their patients to mark National Dental Hygiene Month this October by examining their tooth care regimens to see if there’s any room for improvement.
For many of us, October is the time to celebrate Halloween with candy and sweet treats. But fittingly enough, it’s also the time to pay a little extra attention to the important subject of dental hygiene. This year, the National Dental Hygiene Month theme is “Start the Conversation,” highlighting the importance of talking about oral health care with your hygienist and other members of your dental and oral surgery care providers.
Here at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah, we know that diligent dental hygiene and preventive care are the best ways to avoid many of the problems that ultimately require oral surgery.
So let’s start the conversation by taking a look at the fundamentals of dental hygiene.
Oral Surgeons’ Recommendations for Daily Dental Hygiene
Our oral surgeons advocate the American Dental Hygienists’ Association routine of steps, called the “Daily 4.”
Brushing is the first step. Brush twice per day, for at least two minutes each time. Be sure to use a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush. Many oral surgeons and dental professionals now advise patients to use automatic or sonic toothbrushes, as they can provide a more thorough cleaning.
Next comes flossing. Recent news coverage on the benefits of flossing has been controversial, but the American Dental Association still recommends cleaning between the teeth with dental floss once per day.
Rinsing is the third step. Daily use of a mouthwash can provide additional protection against tooth decay, plaque and gum disease.
The final step of the Daily 4 is to chew sugar-free gum. Chewing sugarless gum can help increase the flow of saliva in your mouth, which can strengthen the teeth and lessen the chance of tooth decay.
Schedule Regular Oral Examinations to Support Dental Hygiene
The Daily 4 is meant to be the backbone of your oral health care. But even the most diligent daily habits can’t replace professional checkups.
Regular exams and dental cleanings are essential, as dental problems can be diagnosed and treated early. Plus, your oral surgeon, dentist or dental hygienist may notice symptoms of other health issues that are hidden, such as oral cancer, microbial infections, immune disorders, diabetes and other diseases.
Fortunately, these conditions are rare.
Gum disease, on the other hand, is a common problem for many patients. Practicing preventive care for gum disease is one of the best ways to avoid facing oral surgery or other advanced treatments.
Effective Dental Hygiene Provides Preventive Protection
Failure to practice the Daily 4 on a routine basis and skipping out on your regular checkups and cleanings will significantly increase your risk of future oral health care problems.
Many of the foods we all enjoy are rich in sugars, which degrade tooth enamel and form plaque, a coating of bacterial film on the teeth. Without proper dental hygiene, the plaque gets harder over time and develops into tartar. Tartar can irritate and inflame the gums, leading to gingivitis.
Left unchecked, gingivitis can develop into periodontal disease.
The decay can cause cavities, abscesses, bone loss in the jaw and tooth loss. And although research is ongoing, periodontal disease has been linked to several other serious health issues, including stroke, heart disease and cancer.
Are you ready to “Start the Conversation” about your oral health care? Make the commitment this October to be diligent about dental exams, hygienic cleanings and the Daily 4. Finally, for a thorough evaluation of your oral health — including an oral cancer screening — contact Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah to schedule an appointment. To best serve our patients, we have three convenient locations in the Salt Lake City, Utah, area.
We look forward to helping you and your family preserve your oral health this year. Contact us today to learn more about our experienced treatment team and oral surgeons.