A healthy, appealing smile starts with a clean mouth. October is National Dental Hygiene Month, where we honor our hard-working, dedicated dental hygienists and the care they provide to protect your smile! Their goal is simple: helping you achieve greater oral health by helping you keep away cavities and gum disease.
A typical day in the life of a dental hygienist may involve any of the following:
Perform dental cleanings: When you come in for your routine dental cleaning, we will clear away harmful dental plaque containing bacterial toxins, including tartar (hardened plaque). If you are having a deep cleaning done, we will smooth the rough areas on your root surfaces to prevent plaque and tartar formation under the gum line. A deep cleaning helps affected gums to heal and will also check for sores, lumps, or swelling in your oral tissue.
Take dental X-rays: We may use X-rays of your teeth, bones, and soft tissues to spot potential dental issues like tooth decay and bone loss. For growing teens, these X-rays can track their jaw and tooth formation to also spot problems early. If you come in experiencing pain, these radiographs can help us see if wisdom teeth might be the issue.
Take dental impressions: We can create impressions of your teeth as models (casts) for our dentist to asses what dental treatments you might need for optimal oral health.
As you can see, our dental hygienists aren’t just here to clean your teeth and make them shine; they are part of your dental team that routinely monitors your dental health to spot developing problems. So what can you do to observe National Dental Hygiene Month? We have some ideas to help you keep your smile on track!
1. Floss daily. Not just once in a while and especially not just when you have your next dental visit (you know we can tell if you are not flossing regularly)! Flossing is important because it cleans the parts of your teeth that your toothbrush can’t, namely, between teeth and below the gum line. You would never just brush your teeth before a visit to our team, so don’t do that with flossing either! Your teeth, gums and pocketbook may pay the price.
2. Brush long enough. Two solid minutes of brushing per session are ideal, not too much, not too little, a strategy Goldilocks would approve! A clean mouth means brighter teeth, healthier gums and better breath!
3. Don’t skip an oral rinse. Rinsing with an ADA-approved antibacterial mouthwash is a great way to wash away lingering oral bacteria that are destructive to your smile while freshening your breath.
One of the things our hygienist can do for you is to help you brush up on your brushing proficiency. First, you want to aim the soft-bristled toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to clean the most effectively. Move the brush gently back and forth in short, tooth-wide strokes. Clean all tooth surfaces: top, bottom, inside and outside surfaces. Your flossing tool will brush away food particles and plaque between teeth and the gumline. Finally, complete your brushing session with a gentle cleaning of your tongue, where bacteria like to collect.
If you want to recreate the amazing feeling of smooth teeth at home, brush your teeth twice a day following these tips (your “fangs” will thank you). While our hygienists can give you a fresh start during your regular cleanings, the best way to treat your toothy grin is to clean your teeth and gums every day, twice a day. Trust us, you’ll notice the difference at your next dental cleaning, and so will we!