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by Lori Herren September 30, 2021 5 min read

October is classified as National Dental Hygiene Month, and 2021 is the sixth year that it has been recognized as an awareness month. In October, we spread awareness and attention to the importance and need for good dental hygiene for everyone. Good oral health is more than just brushing your teeth, so they look white and clean. There is a profound connection between full-body health and good oral health; they go hand in hand. Simply put, if your mouth isn’t healthy, it’s going to affect the health of your body. The American Dental Hygienists Association and the American Dental Association have teamed up with the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company (yes, the chewing gum company) using the month of October to bring needed attention to how important your oral health is to your overall physical health, and it’s in straightforward, manageable steps that you can do your part to have a healthy smile.


How Oral Health Connects To Your Physical Health

When we eat, drink, and breathe we allow different bacteria into our mouth, which causes plaque. As we consume food, especially foods high in carbohydrates and sugars, bacteria feed off these sugars and form acid. As time passes, these acids can destroy the enamel on your teeth causing tooth decay. Gingivitis, tooth decay, gum disease, and periodontal gum disease are serious conditions that no one wants to deal with. Numerous medical studies have shown that problems with your oral health can link to issues in other parts of your body:

  • People that have gum disease have a greater risk to develop cardiovascular problems, such as a stroke or a heart attack
  • Recurring gum disease can cause the blood vessels in the neck to become thicker
  • People with diabetes have high blood sugar levels. Sugar, especially in excess, can cause gum disease
  • People with diabetes find great benefits with regular dental cleanings
  • What you eat affects your physical health and it impacts your oral health! That’s why it’s important to eat fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, nuts, and fish, lean meats and sweets in moderation. The less sugar you consume the better, for both your physical and oral health



It’s not a problematic or strange concept that the best thing you can do for your teeth is to brush them twice a day. The ADHA recommends that you brush your teeth twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. There’s not a magic formula or an expensive brush or technique you need; just remember and practice these simple tips:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day, first thing in the morning and before you go to bed at night
  • Make sure your toothbrush has soft bristles
  • Make sure your toothbrush easily fits into your mouth
  • Make sure you hold your brush with your wrist at a 45-degree angle (if you use a toothbrush with a round brush head, it does this work for you. An excellent example of this is a Brilliant toothbrush from Brilliant Oral Care.)
  • Change out your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months, or sooner if your bristles become damaged or you have an illness, at which point you should discard your brush and start using a new one


Flossing Is Important

One of the most neglected practices in good dental hygiene is flossing your teeth. Even the most devoted brushers struggle to make flossing a part of their daily routine. (Guilty!) Flossing is essential to help remove plaque and debris between your teeth that your toothbrush just can’t reach. Flossing your teeth benefits you by helping to prevent serious conditions like gum disease and tooth decay.

  • You need a good amount of floss, around 18 inches long
  • Wrap one end around a dominant finger on one hand; the other end also wrap around a dominate finger on the other hand
  • Grasp a section on each end with your thumb and index finger and carefully work the floss in between your teeth, making sure to wrap it around the tooth, go back and forth and avoid jamming it into your gum line. Stop at the gum line, because it’s your stopping point
  • Nighttime is a good time to floss, getting out food particles that may be stuck between teeth before you go to sleep for the night 


Prioritize Regular Appointments With Your Dental Professionals

It is vital to your oral health for you to go see your dentist and hygienist every six months.

  • Have your teeth cleaned twice a year with a licensed dental hygienist and let your dentist examine your mouth, teeth, and gums at each visit


Other Helpful Ways To Help Your Teeth Stay Healthy

There are two other tools you can use to accompany your brushing in your quest for a healthy mouth:

Mouthwash - There are two kinds of mouthwashes: therapeutic and cosmetic. The kind you want to use, the type that will best help your oral health is therapeutic, and the mouthwash you choose also needs to be an antimicrobial mouthwash

  • Therapeutic, antimicrobial mouthwash can help, as an addition to brushing and flossing, to reduce plaque, help keep gingivitis from developing, and help with bad breath. Before or after brushing, you can use mouthwash  to help with spots that a toothbrush might not reach 
  • Only use mouthwash that has the ADA seal of acceptance, and the best advice is to ask your dentist and dental hygienist which brand they recommend


Sugar-free gum - Sugar-free gum can provide significant benefits to your oral health when used in conjunction with regular brushing and flossing

  • Chewing sugar-free gum can increase your saliva production, which will wash away any acids left in your mouth that can cause bacteria
  • Chewing sugar-free gum can protect your teeth by removing debris when you cannot get to a toothbrush
  • Check available packages of sugar-free gum for the ADA seal, which means it has been proven an effective resource for a healthy mouth


Mouthwash and sugar-free gum are great additions to brushing and flossing but are NOT meant to take the place of these important oral hygiene practices.


You Are In Charge Of Your Mouth!

Just as you are the driver of your own car, controlling the function of the car where it goes and all the proper maintenance to keep it running smoothly, you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to your oral health. It’s up to you to brush, floss, eat healthy and avoid sugar, and see your dentist every 6 months to ensure your mouth is healthy. A healthy mouth produces a healthy smile, and smiles keep us going with joy for the journey!!


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This article is intended to provide an understanding of and knowledge about “health topics” as expressed through the perspective and research of the author. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice or counsel, including the diagnosis or treatment of any condition. Always seek the advice of your qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, illness or treatment of any listed or non listed situation above. By using this site, you signify your assent to our Terms and Conditions.





Lori Herren
Lori Herren

Lori D. Herren is a graduate of the University of West Georgia where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications for Broadcast Journalism and Public Relations, with minors in Marketing and Music. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends and pursuing her love of music.

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