21 May National Smile Month (13th May – 13th June 2019)
What better time to reflect on how important our oral health is! National Smile month is upon us and I, as a trainee dental nurse at Bridgeways Dental, would like to make everyone aware of how important it is to look after your gums as well as your teeth. In this blog, to go alongside National Smile Month I am talking about why it is important to see a dental hygienist, and how to make a habit out of your oral health.
What is National Smile Month?
National Smile Month, hosted by the British Dental Health Foundation from the 13th May – 13th June 2019 is the UK’s biggest oral health campaign.
Good oral health is not always awarded the attention it fully deserves, yet it is the foundation to successful dental treatments and an ongoing healthy mouth. Due to the focus of National Smile Month, it is a personal favorite of mine. Words cannot stress how much of a priority your oral health should be. I, like a lot of people I am sure, was not fully aware prior to becoming a trainee dental nurse how important good oral hygiene is to our overall health, not just how fresh our breath is!
National Smile Month, aims to get across three key messages, all of which go a long way in helping us develop and maintain a healthy mouth. They are:
- Brush your teeth last thing at night and on at least one other occasion with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Cut down on how much sugary food and drink you have, and how often you have them.
- Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.
Who Should Visit a Hygienist?
Hand in hand with your regular dental checkups should come regular hygienist appointments. Many people believe that they only need to see a hygienist if they have problems with their gums, for example: bleeding, receding gums, sore and painful gums, loose or wobbly teeth, teeth falling out. Although dental hygienists do see patients with these issues for treatment of gum disease (also known as periodontal disease), most of us could benefit with regular appointments for “maintenance” of their gum health. We recommend most patients to visit a hygienist twice per year, to remove calculus (hardened plaque) deposits above and just below the gum line and to educate and help with at-home cleaning practices and habits.
What About those Little Brushes?
Although the toothbrush is an amazing tool for your teeth, healthy gums are just as, if not MORE important. It is really important to use small interdental brushes, or floss, to clean the areas between your teeth where the toothbrush bristles can’t reach.
I am sure that every time you visit the dentist or hygienist, they advise you to use interdental cleaning tools such as floss or brushes. You leave the surgery wielding your sample brushes with all promise of using them forevermore…but how many times have you then not followed through with the interdental cleaning accessories that were recommended? Perhaps you did follow your hygienist’s recommendations, but only for a couple of weeks and then fell back to your old ways.
Throughout my time as a dental nurse so far, I have heard 2 main excuses from patients as to why interdental cleaning is not done…
How do I Make it a Habit?
Take a moment to think about how natural it is for you to brush your teeth every day. You probably didn’t even need to think about it as it is embedded into your daily schedule. Believe it or not, you can also make your interdental cleaning part of this routine too. Did you know that on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic, a “habit” — 66 days to be exact!
Simple tips to ensure you are prepared:
- If you are unsure of what to use, consult your dentist or hygienist to ensure effective cleaning
- Always have your recommended interdental brushes (such as Tepes) or floss available in your bathroom, next to or near your toothbrush.
- Use a chart, a reminder, or a habit tracker app on your smartphone and tick it off when you’re done. Why not reward yourself with something nice when you make it to two months!
- Typically, mornings can be a rush. So why not try using your interdental tools before bed, when you are relaxed and may have more time.
After time it will become second nature to you and you will not even have to think about it. Plus, you won’t have that nagging guilt as your hygienist asks you how you have been getting on at your next appointment as you know that you would have done everything possible to improve your oral health.
And remember, someone once told me: if you do your best and still don’t win, at least you can be satisfied that you’ve tried.
Book your appointment today with our wonderful hygienist Kirsty. We are delighted that she is now working an extra session with us, so will be available on Tuesdays 8.30am-5.30pm, and Thursdays 2pm-8pm at our dental clinic in Totton, Southampton.