Good dental hygiene is always important, including around Halloween
By Katie Minor
October is National Dental Hygiene Month, so while Halloween is just around the corner, you could be forgetting to keep up with your oral health.
“Neglecting oral hygiene can increase your risks for multiple health conditions, as well as an increased risk of tooth pain, cavities and gum, or periodontal, disease,” said Whitney Holmes, dental hygienist and infection control coordinator at MCHD Dentistry, Monongalia County Health Department's full-service dental practice.
In fact, maintaining oral health is not just beneficial for the teeth, but for the whole body. “Oral health is vital to your overall health, as the mouth is the gateway to the body,” Holmes said. “When we see a patient with gum disease, they are more likely to be diagnosed with conditions such as heart disease and diabetes."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, oral disease can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking and learning. Poor oral health can cause your teeth to yellow or fall out, leading to problems with social interactions and employment.
To get a jump start on protecting your oral health before you get to the Halloween candy, consider these tips:
Brush twice a day, every day. The best and easiest way to great oral health is a steady brushing schedule. Using a fluoride toothpaste to fight tooth decay, brush for about two minutes every morning and night. Don’t forget to brush your tongue too! This is how you prevent plaque from building up, which can lead to gingivitis.
Floss daily. Believe it or not, flossing is not just for the day before you go to the dentist. In fact, flossing daily can significantly improve your oral health. It stimulates the gums, removes plaque and lowers inflammation.
Having difficulty flossing? That’s OK. You can still reap the benefits by using dental floss sticks. You can even get biodegradable floss sticks to reduce your plastic consumption. After flossing, consider using mouthwash to finish up your daily oral hygiene routine.
Watch what you eat and drink. Sugary, acidic foods and drinks are a dental hygienist’s nightmare. While most of us enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning or a soda every now and then, it is important to limit consumption of these acidic beverages that wear down the enamel on your teeth. Having a glass of water with every meal can help keep your mouth clean.
The importance of fluoride cannot be understated. “Fluoride is a key component in daily oral hygiene; it is vital that you drink fluoridated water and use a fluoride toothpaste two times a day for two minutes while brushing,” Holmes said.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that re-mineralizes teeth and prevents tooth decay. The CDC says that the Baby Boomer generation is the first one in which the majority of people will keep their natural teeth over their entire lifetime, due in large part to the introduction of fluoride.
"Besides brushing and flossing, visiting your dentist two times a year for cleanings and dental exams is vital. That way, your dentist can catch suspicious areas while they are small,” Holmes said. “It's a win-win. Smaller cavities are typically easier and cheaper to fix, but maintaining oral health is key."
COVID-19 has been a whirlwind of health concerns. Getting caught up in quarantines, testing and vaccinations may have caused some of us to forget about our dental appointments. Still, going to the dentist twice a year is key to maintaining oral health. MCHD Dentistry keeps high levels of disinfection and infection control procedures during every visit to make sure you feel safe during the entire visit.
“As MCHD Dentistry's infection control coordinator, it is my responsibility to ensure the safety of all of our team members and patients coming into our office by maintaining and enforcing our infection control policies,” Holmes said. “I couldn't ask for a better team.”
We appreciate all our dental hygienists’ efforts. This Halloween, if you want to dress up as a superhero, consider getting a dental hygienist costume! And remember, after you eat any candy, brush and floss your teeth!
And feel free to call MCHD Dentistry at 304-598-5108 to make an appointment.