National Dental Hygiene Month: Take Care of Your Smile

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Considering the amount of candy consumed this month for Halloween, it’s a bit ironic that October marks National Dental Hygiene Month. It’s probably not a coincidence that in a recent survey of orthodontists, 78 percent reported an increase of at least 10 percent more emergency visits on Halloween and the days following. Another 20 percent reported a 25 percent increase in emergency visits. Dental insurer, United Concordia Dental offers these tips for a keeping your smile healthy during October and all year round.

Establish an effective home-care regimen. It's not how hard you brush, but how you brush that matters. Proper brushing includes not only your teeth but your gums, tongue and cheeks as well. And don’t forget to floss. Flossing helps remove particles between teeth that can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath. 

Visit your dentist regularly. Regular visits to the dentist are important in promoting good oral health. No matter how well you brush and floss, there will still be plaque hiding in places that you cannot see or reach. This plaque hardens into calculus, which left untreated can cause cavities and eventually gum disease.

Limit snacking between meals. When the sugars in foods mix with certain bacteria in the mouth, acid is created. Eating throughout the day constantly exposes your teeth to these acids that wear down the protective outer enamel of your teeth.

Drink a soft drink in one sitting—don't sip it. Sipping allows the sugars and acids in soft drinks to continually coat your teeth and wear away the enamel. Drink soft drinks with a straw positioned toward the back of the mouth and be sure to rinse.

Don't chew ice. Your teeth are designed to last a lifetime, but they were made for food only. Chewing ice can cause fracture lines, cracks and chips, which can make the teeth more sensitive and lead to further damage.

"To keep your smile healthy, visit your dental care provider regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams," says Dr. James Bramson, chief dental officer at United Concordia Dental. "Often signs of certain diseases will appear in the mouth before they appear elsewhere, which means a dental checkup could detect more than just a cavity. And because plenty of research suggests that certain oral diseases and conditions may be linked to health problems in other parts of the body, your dentist can be an ally in your efforts to improve your overall health and well-being."

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