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What is National Dental Hygiene Month anyway? It’s really a month for dentists and hygienists to come together and help promote oral health for all ages. The American Dental Hygienist Association (ADHA) hosts a campaign each year during October to not only recognize dental hygienists for the work they do, but also to help raise public awareness about good oral health. This year’s campaign focuses on “Brush, Floss, Rinse, Chew” –which will be the topics of our blog series this month.

According to the ADHA, “recent studies show that periodontal disease continues to plague millions of Americans, including children.” The best way to prevent this disease is to teach children good dental habits and practices that will lead to a lifetime of health. Sealant applications also help young patients protect their teeth from cavities between dental visits by filling in deep pockets in rear teeth. Talking to your hygienist or dental professional about this option for your children is a good idea.

“Good nutrition and oral hygiene care practiced at home are particularly important during the teen years. Proper diet, brushing, and flossing all play an important role in maintaining a healthy smile and preserving teeth during these challenging years.” As teenagers, a lot of changes take place from hormones to school activities to planning for the future. During this period of tough decisions, it’s important to consider things that can affect oral health. These include: piercings, increased consumption of sugary beverages, and smoking. Maintaining open communication and scheduling regular dental visits for cleanings is essential to ensuring oral health in adolescents. While teens are making more decisions on their own and taking care of their personal hygiene, it is important for parents to check-in to ensure kids are brushing and flossing on a regular basis.

As adults, our dental health becomes our responsibility. Scheduling regular cleanings with a hygienist, and talking with a dentist about changes in bone and gum structure as we get older is crucial to maintaining our oral health. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash to rinse are all daily activities that keep teeth enamel and gums strong. Eating fresh foods whenever possible also helps reduce the acid produced by processed sugars and carbohydrates. Talking to your dentist about any dental concerns can help solve problems before they start! If it’s been awhile since your last appointment with a dentist, celebrate National Dental Hygiene Month by making an appointment in October. Click here to find a Smiles Dental location nearest you.

For more information and resources regarding National Dental Hygiene Month, visit http://www.adha.org/national-dental-hygiene-month.