With the fast paced nature of today's world it may seem like there is little time for practicing good oral health habits. After coming home from work, putting together dinner and getting the kids off to bed, it is easy to overlook the importance of things like brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash. However, experts warn that failure to do so could result in conditions like cavities, gingivitis and bad breath.
In an effort to battle this complacency, the American Dental Hygienists' Association recently pronounced that October will be National Dental Hygiene Month. Throughout the month, representatives plan on leading public awareness campaigns highlighting the importance of oral health, and how easy it can be to practice healthy habits.
"It is imperative to our overall health to have a healthy mouth," said ADHA president Caryn Solie. "Brushing, flossing, rinsing with an anti-microbial mouth rinse and chewing sugar-free gum are easy ways to help avoid issues that could affect the status of your oral health."
She added that brushing for as little as two minutes twice per day is enough to help most people prevent cavities and gum disease, and that antibacterial rinses are an effective means for avoiding halitosis.
A failure to follow these simple steps could lead to many oral health complications. Initially, plaque begins to build up around the edges of teeth. This eventually causes the breakdown of oral tissues. Gingivitis, or gum disease, is one of the most common results of this process. Individuals who experience this condition often have swollen or bleeding gums that pull away from the teeth.
Additionally, gingivitis often causes halitosis. The bacteria that infect gum tissues produce a foul-smelling waste product that can leave a sour taste on the mouth and unpleasant odor in the air. These bacteria have also been linked to serious conditions through the body, such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.
Despite the risks, many people still ignore their oral health. A recent report from the surgeon general stated that a majority of Americans have some type of oral disease due to a lack of hygiene. It says that "oral disease and disorders in and of themselves affect health and well-being throughout life, with some type of periodontal disease or gingivitis affecting 75 percent of the population."
Spending a few extra minutes each day may be enough for most people to avoid these issues altogether.