We’re in the middle of National Dental Hygiene Month and now’s the perfect time to remember the importance of taking care of your oral health. The American Dental Association recommends that individuals get a cleaning every six months in order to maintain the health of their teeth and gums.
Unfortunately, bad dental hygiene can lead to serious oral health problems, including cavities, gum disease, and more.
In celebration of National Dental Hygiene Month, your McAllen pediatric dentist at Heroes Dental would like to share some facts about oral health, general dental tips, and how to protect your family from the creepy cavities that can come with Halloween.
Interesting Oral Health Facts to Be Aware Of
Taking care of your dental hygiene is essential to your overall health and your quality of life. When you fail to get regular dental cleanings, you greatly increase the risk of developing serious dental issues.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- More than 1 in 4 (26%) adults in the U.S. have untreated tooth decay.
- Nearly half (46%) of all adults aged 30 years or older show signs of gum disease.
- Severe gum disease affects around 9% of adults.
- Oral cancers are most common in older adults, especially in those 55 years and older who smoke and are heavy drinkers.
- Chronic diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, or diabetes increase an individual’s risk of having missing teeth and poor oral health.
- According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), tooth decay is twenty times more common than diabetes and five times more common than childhood asthma.
- The CDC has reported that 19% of adolescents aged 2 to 19 have untreated dental caries (cavities), with 42% of children aged 2 to 11 having them in their primary teeth.
- About 1 of 5 (20%) children aged 5 to 11 have at least one untreated decaying tooth.
- 1 of 7 (13%) of those aged 12 to 19 have at least one untreated cavity.
About Dental Hygiene
1. Your oral health affects your overall health.
You may not have realized it, but your dental hygiene and health can have a strong correlation to your general health. For instance, many studies have shown a connection between heart attacks, strokes, as well as other systemic health issues and gum disease.
Another reason to have regular dental check-ups is that it allows for more opportunities to detect serious health risks such as oral cancer. When evaluating the health and functioning of gums and teeth, your dentist can see if you or your little one is developing any abnormalities that need to be corrected, and can also inform you of any vitamin or nutrient deficiencies you should be aware of.
2. Protect your family from the upcoming sugar-filled holiday season.
Halloween is nearly here, and that means Thanksgiving and Christmas are not far behind. While the holiday season can be a ton of fun, they’re also a time of lots of sweets and goodies. While plenty of family get-togethers, you and your little ones might end up overindulging, but it’s important that you keep oral hygiene at the top of your holiday to-do list.
3. Take a moment to realize the importance of a cleaning.
We know that this year has been like no other. Out of concern for your family and health, you might’ve avoided dental appointments (or other health check-ins). While this is totally understandable, and probably likely because of quarantine, it’s important to keep in mind that a dental check-up should still be a priority for you this year.
Even if you’ve been cautious and extra vigilant to protect your teeth, plaque can still build up in the crevices of your mouth and can eventually turn into tough tartar – removing it will require quality dental care. If tartar is left in the mouth, it can cause tooth decay, gum disease, cavities, and a host of other dental health issues that could’ve been avoided.
The 4 Essentials of Quality Oral Hygiene Practices
1. Brushing Is a Must
Brushing at least twice a day, for 2 minutes at a time, is absolutely essential for clean teeth and fresh breath. When brushing, do small horizontal tooth-wide motions to cover all surfaces of your teeth. Tilt your toothbrush vertically to scrub behind your front teeth where plaque can build up.
Make sure to use soft-bristle toothbrushes, especially for your little ones, and toothpaste that has fluoride in it to help strengthen their enamel. And don’t forget to brush your tongue, too!
2. Flossing Is as Important as Brushing
You might be brushing daily, but are you flossing? If you don’t floss, plaque and small food particles can get stuck in the small crevices of your teeth, and eventually turn into plaque.
While it can be difficult to remember, you can keep it at the top of your mind by storing the floss with your toothbrush, or carrying it with you so that you can floss when you take a bathroom break.
Flossing is a necessary step to your daily oral hygiene routine that can have tremendous benefits to your dental health.
3. Don’t Forget the Mouthwash
Using mouthwash will allow you to clean cheeks, the roof of your mouth, and all the hidden areas in your mouth. Use a mouthwash that is ADA approved at least once daily.
4. Carry Sugar-Free Gum
Sugar-free gum is a great tool to improve your oral health!
Chewing on a piece of sugar-free gum after a meal can promote saliva production, which can help to break down food particles and neutralize the acidity levels in your mouth that can cause enamel erosion and dental caries. A healthy production of saliva will also aid in your fight against bad breath and dry mouth.
Chew a piece of sugar-free gum if you aren’t able to brush your teeth, especially after eating a meal.
Your Little Hero and Halloween
Everybody loves the spooky season. From scary movies to creepy stories, it’s the season of haunting fun. But all those candies and sweets can leave your little hero’s teeth in a frightened state. Here are a few great ways that you can scare those cavities away this Halloween.
1. Avoid those creepily sticky candies.
Everyone loves candies, but they are a huge cause of cavities and dental complications. This is especially true for the types of candies that stick to your teeth, those which are extremely sour, or just hard to chew.
Make sure your little hero avoids consuming too many taffies, caramels, sour gummies, lollipops, sticky candy bars, and other similar candies that can make teeth look like zombie teeth.
2. Don’t forget those dental-friendly candies.
While no candy is absolutely safe, there are some that are considered to be a little “better” than others. For example, dark chocolate is quite a bit better than milk chocolate candies. Dark chocolate has antioxidants and a few other nutrients that can be good for your health.
Plus, real dark chocolate doesn’t have the same amount of processed sugars as milk chocolate, meaning it won’t stick to your teeth or cause as much damage.
If you’re looking to create your own treats at home, then xylitol is an excellent choice. This sugar-free sweetener can actually help fight off harmful bacteria that might build up in your mouth.
3. Practice protective measures that will scare cavities away.
Practicing preventative measures, such as brushing and flossing after enjoying treats or even simply drinking water after eating a piece of candy, can really make a difference in your overall dental health.
Good dental hygiene routines should include regular flossing, brushing your teeth for at least two minutes twice a day, and using mouthwash, especially after a spooky good Halloween. Make sure you and your family maintain a great oral health routine to keep up with your dental health.
4. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Frankenstein (just kidding … or are we).
Scheduling an appointment with your family’s pediatric dentist every six months is important to keep up with your dental health, and to also prevent long-term damage that can affect your children’s permanent teeth.
Keep those pesky sugars from lurking in the shadows and let your Heroes Dental McAllen dentist protect your little one’s smile.
Celebrate National Dental Hygiene Month with Heroes Dental
Your McAllen pediatric dentists at Heroes Dental are proud to serve families all throughout the Rio Grande Valley. As we move into the holiday season, it’s important to spend some time getting your regular check-ups and cleanings, especially if you haven’t had a chance this year because of the pandemic.
We know that many families are concerned about COVID-19, that’s why we closely follow CDC guidelines and sanitation standards. We make sure that your families – and our team – are as safe as possible.