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National Dental Hygiene Month: Advice from a Maxillofacial Surgeon in Austin

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Good teeth and gum health are critical to our overall well-being. Our mouths play a major role in our lives, impacting how we eat, look, and speak. Doing the bare minimum to maintain your oral health could put you at risk for adverse conditions in these areas, as well as decrease your total body health. After all, every human’s mouth is full of bacteria. Although most of it is harmless, some bacteria are capable of causing disease. Without proper oral hygiene, you could end up with an infection, tooth loss, or gum disease. To prevent dental problems from happening, follow the top tips of a professional maxillofacial surgeon in the Austin area.

What is National Dental Hygiene Month?

October marks the time of year to spread the word about the importance of oral health. It’s the perfect way to combat the potential for cavities alongside the many sweet treats of the season. Throughout National Dental Hygiene Month, you are encouraged to take note of how you practice dental hygiene. Are you expertly fighting against tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath? The advocates at American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) are ready to help guide you through all of it.

The ADHA and Wrigley gum company came up with this month of recognition in 2009. They believed that Americans should put a greater emphasis on maintaining their oral health. Through the years, many groups have partnered with the ADHA to promote the benefits of keeping teeth healthy. And for each of them, the sentiment remains clear… To achieve the public’s confidence in our smiles.

How Can You Keep Your Mouth Healthy?

Developing good dental habits when you are young can make a world of difference in terms of your overall health and happiness. This means a lifetime of care, regardless of how nice your smile is. Maxillofacial surgeons in the Austin area find that there are simple adjustments you can make to your oral hygiene routine to prevent you from needing certain dental treatments in the future. Here are seven ways to maintain your oral health.

Make sure that you are brushing properly.

Did you know that you should be brushing your teeth for at least two minutes per session? This is because it leads to the greatest reduction in plaque. You should do this twice a day, with one of those times being before you go to bed. Get rid of any food particles that accumulate throughout the day. But be aware that brushing your teeth poorly is nearly as bad as not brushing. If you want to ensure that you are eliminating plaque, you need to use a soft-bristled toothbrush on the outside and inside of your teeth. Begin gently brushing at your gumline, and don’t forget about your tongue in the process!

Replace your toothbrush every few months.

As you continue to use your toothbrush, it is going to experience wear. For this reason, every three to four months, you should invest in a new toothbrush. You should also change out your toothbrush after you are sick. Following a cold or a virus, there will be germs hiding in the bristles, which could reinfect you.

Don’t forget the importance of flossing!

Food particles may get stuck between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing is imperative to keep from the build-up of these particles and plaque. It is also a way to stimulate your gums and lower inflammation. The best practices for flossing include doing so at least once a day, pushing the floss all the way to the gumline, and avoiding snapping it between teeth. Dental professionals, including maxillofacial surgeons in Austin, recognize that it can be difficult for some people to floss. This may be the case if you have arthritis or braces, for instance. But luckily, there are several types of floss available. Find out which type works best for you.

Use a periodontist-recommended mouthwash.

Many people skip using mouthwash. But there are several great reasons to purchase a quality mouthwash. Of course, there is the fact that it freshens your breath. By swishing mouthwash for just thirty seconds, you are left with a minty scent. Beyond that, mouthwashes that contain fluoride can soothe your dry mouth, reduce the risk of gingivitis, help control plaque, prevent tooth decay, and kill bad bacteria. You are actively combatting cavities and sensitivity when you regularly use mouthwash. Three of the most highly-recommended products come from TheraBreath, Crest, and Colgate.

Visit your dentist every six months.

Any maxillofacial surgeon in the Austin area will tell you that it is vital to your oral health to keep up with your regular dental exams. These should be spaced out every six months, or even maybe more frequently depending on your dental health. During these visits, your dentist will let you know whether or not you are on the right track with your current dental hygiene routine. They will perform oral exams to detect any issues that you could be facing, such as cavities or oral cancer.

Limit your intake of sugary drinks.

Everyone can benefit from staying hydrated. By drinking more water, you will better promote your overall health. It is often recommended to drink over 2.5 liters of water each day. With sugar-sweetened beverages being one of the biggest sources of added sugars, it is also one of the leading factors of cavities. So, swap out your sugary drinks when possible. That isn’t to say that you need to completely eliminate them from your diet, but minimize your consumption to the occasional meal time.

Stay away from smoking.

Nicotine is an addictive substance that millions of Americans have fallen victim to. Smoking can cause a variety of health problems. In regard to oral health, specifically, it may yellow your teeth, increase your chances of oral cancer, and/or may put you at a greater risk for gum disease. Because it weakens your immune system, it puts you at greater risk of contracting a gum infection. The American Dental Association (ADA) notes that tobacco products can even slow healing following a tooth extraction or other surgery. Your dental professional—including your oral and maxillofacial surgeon—may encourage you to end this habit.

What Does a Maxillofacial Surgeon Do?

At the end of the day, it all comes back around to our sense of confidence. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons in Austin are highly-trained experts who can get us there. They specialize in corrective dental procedures for cosmetic and restorative purposes. These dental professionals focus on treating problems that relate to your mouth, aiming to increase function and reduce pain. An example of their work includes orthognathic surgery. This is when the jaws need repositioning to improve chronic pain, breathing problems, and/or facial imbalance.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons need to know how to diagnose and treat a wide range of issues. That is why they undergo several years of education prior to starting a practice. Know that you will be in good hands throughout your procedure, no matter how complicated your condition. Have a talk with your regular dental practitioner to find out their recommendations for local surgeons.

Here at our practices in the heart of Texas, we take National Dental Hygiene Month seriously. We will do our best to ensure that you have the best smile possible! If you are in need of treatment to correct a disease or injury of your face, jaw, or mouth, get in touch with our team today. Dr. Jeff Alford is a Board-Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon in the Austin area. He offers wisdom teeth removal, dental implants, and TMJ and jaw surgery at our two offices in Lakeway and Bastrop.