By Kevin Bryan
To many, February is the month of love and the shortest month with a leap day that happens every four years. However, less commonly known is that February is also National Children’s Dental Health Month, a month where the American Dental Association makes enormous efforts to publicize and observe the benefits of good oral hygiene. This year’s campaign slogan is “Defeat Monster Mouth”, which is accompanied on posters that illustrate a battle to eradicate harmful germs from the darkest depths of the mouth.
Developing good dental habits at an early age is essential to living a life with healthy teeth and gums. Even though it is easily preventable, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing everyday are the basics to maintaining good oral hygiene. While the toothbrush has only “teeth” in its name, cleaning the gums simultaneously is just as important. The brush should move in a circular motion up and down, so that it makes contact with the gums just as often as the teeth. This way, you can prevent your gums from becoming inflamed and red. After all surfaces of the teeth have been cleaned, the tongue should also be brushed in order to remove bacteria as well as freshen the breath.
Every person should be aware of the foods that have the most potential to make your teeth vulnerable to cavities. Acidic foods such as oranges or other citrus leave your teeth vulnerable, as the enamel coating on the outside is removed to some degree. Bacteria than have a better chance of reaching the inside of the tooth. With that in mind, brushing teeth too soon after eating a meal can be damaging to teeth, because when the enamel is in a weakened state, the teeth are more likely to become damaged with brushing. Furthermore, sugary foods or drinks also have the potential of damaging teeth because bacteria use the sugars to form acids, which they then use to break down the enamel even further. Diet sodas are just as harmful to teeth as regular sodas, because they both have the same levels of acidity.
While brushing teeth and staying away from certain foods can help prevent cavities, any person will likely end up with a cavity or two at some point. Therefore, having semi-annual checkups with a local dentist should be scheduled on the calendar, as the professionals can make sure that teeth and gums are in a good state.
During this month, we hope to spread awareness of steps that can be taken to improve
Oral health, as the teeth have to stay for a lifetime, and without proper measures, you may find yourself with dentures many years before you expect it.