World Oral Health Day (WOHD) is celebrated every year on March 20th. It is an international day to celebrate the benefits of a healthy mouth and to promote worldwide awareness of the issues around oral health and the importance of oral hygiene to looking after everyone old and young.
Many of our patients are frustrated with the cost of oral hygiene care and often ask us what they can do to keep their teeth and those of their children free from cavities and oral disease. We always go back to the American Dental Association’s basic recommendations. Taking care of your mouth is simple.
The ADA recommends the following for good oral hygiene:
• Brush your teeth twice a day with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won't do a good job of cleaning your teeth.
• Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner. Tooth decay–causing bacteria still linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. This helps remove the sticky film on teeth called plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.
• Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.
• Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.
To the ADA recommendations I would add: if you or your children play a sport or club activity, use a mouth guard. You can order a mouth guard from your dentist that is form fitting and made to last or most local drug stores carry various forms of generic mouth guards. Remember, cheerleading and dance squads are considered sports; wear mouth guards.
Maintaining your oral care routine is difficult early in life, but that is precisely when good habits of tooth care must become solid parts of your daily healthy body regime. Make it a habit to see your dentist and the dental hygienist once or twice a year. It will make a huge difference in the cost of your overall health and particularly your oral health. Consider, too, the gift of a dental visit to those who cannot afford one.
The American Dental Association contributed factual information to this article.