The month of October seems to kick off the beginning of the holiday season, and at our dental office in Alexandria, we have one more reason to celebrate! Every October the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA) sponsors National Dental Hygiene Month to recognize the hard work and dedication of dental hygienists all around America. We’re so lucky to have our talented hygiene team and we wanted to dedicate this blog to them and their jobs!
What Do Dental Hygienists Do?
Dental hygienists are responsible for many aspects of their patients’ oral health and are often the first line of defense for patients. Their main responsibilities revolve around the prevention of many dental concerns including cavities and gum disease. Besides providing patients with a thorough cleaning at every appointment, they also help educate patients on oral hygiene, answer any concerns patients may have, and many will take dental x-rays.
Let’s Talk About Oral Hygiene
Perhaps the most common thing that dental hygienists do is give their patients tips on how to maintain a healthy mouth. They’ll talk about proper brushing and flossing techniques, whether mouthwash may be beneficial, and other tricks to help keep teeth problem and cavity-free. Let’s take a closer look at each aspect of a good oral hygiene routine.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing your teeth twice a day — once in the morning and once at night — for a minimum of two minutes each time. During those two minutes, your hygienist and dentist in Alexandria suggest using gentle circles with a soft-bristled toothbrush held at a 45 degree angle. Practicing this technique will remove bacteria and plaque from teeth without causing damage.
We should all floss our teeth everyday, and not just when we feel the annoyance of piece of food stuck between our teeth. If we don’t floss regularly we actually don’t clean about 35% of every tooth. Food particles left around too long will only feed bacteria and increase the chance for decay. Make sure to gently wiggle floss between each tooth and up under the gums.
When it comes to mouthwash, your dental hygienist may or may not suggest using one. There are plenty types of mouthwash that can help an assortment of concerns such as dry mouth. However, some mouthwashes may make some problems worse. For example, mouthwashes that contain alcohol may actually make dry mouth worse and only temporarily alleviate bad breath. Talk with your hygienist about what’s right for you.
Believe it or not, chewing a piece of sugar-free gum can help keep mouths healthy. Look for a gum with the ADA Seal of Acceptance — this means it’s been researched and declared safe for smiles. Chewing gum in between brushings or after meals can increase saliva production which will help neutralize acid, protecting teeth against decay and enamel wear.
The next time you visit our Alexandria dental office, make sure to thank your dental hygienist. Also make sure to keep your appointments every six months, practice good at-home oral hygiene, and contact us soon as possible if you experience a dental emergency.
Welcoming patients from Alexandria, Old Town, and Del Ray.