October is National Dental Hygiene Month! This is the time of the year to celebrate the important work dental hygienists do. There are more than 150,000 dental hygienists in the United States who are working hard to keep our mouths healthy and our smiles happy.

Dental Hygiene Month is also meant to be an annual reminder for us to maintain proper oral hygiene. By practicing great dental habits, we can celebrate it at home. The most important part of practicing good oral hygiene is brushing your teeth thoroughly 2 times a day for 2 minutes. 

Here is the proper technique to brush your teeth at home:

  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. 
  • Gently move the brush back and forth in short (tooth-wide) strokes. 
  • Brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.
  • Watch this quick video about proper brushing technique 

Brushing your teeth is and important part of dental hygiene, but is not the only step to prevent tooth caries. Another important part of the oral health routine is flossing between the teeth every night. Flossing removes plaque that, if left between your teeth, will build up and result in tooth decay and gum disease. Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal can also help eliminate food particles caught between your teeth and prevent plaque buildup by stimulating saliva production.

Besides brushing and flossing, using a mouthwash can enhance your oral health and prevent bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.

Last but not least, you should see your dental office at least twice a year for cleanings, X-rays (if needed), and a review of your dental history. One of the most important roles of dental hygienists is screening for cavities. Screenings can identify issues such as tooth decay, gum disease, and others before they become more serious issues like tooth loss. You should add an extra visit or two each year if you have had past problems with dental decay or gum disease.

Join KOHC in celebrating Dental Hygiene Month by spreading awareness about the importance of oral hygiene and advocating for policies that are centered around access to care for all Kentuckians.