Dental Hygiene Fun Facts
Keeping your BOO-TIFUL smile during the month of October can be a challenge since Halloween is the most notorious holiday for big bags of sweats and sugary goodies. To balance that, October is also National Dental Hygiene Month - both great reasons to share some a few tips on good oral health and in between, treat ourselves to a few oral history fun facts.
· Inflation even effects the Tooth Fairy – In 1950, the average value the Tooth Fairy left was just 25 cents, by 1988 that had gone up to a full $1.00, the going rate today is on average $2.00.
· Indulge and then limit your Halloween stash - It’s tempting to keep that candy around, but for the sake of your teeth, don’t. Eating candy continually exposes your teeth to sugar. It would be better to have a post Halloween party where everyone eats all they want in one sitting and then donate the rest. Some dentists have a candy take-back program and there are organizations who donate candy to troops overseas.
· In 3000 BC, you could choose a career in dentistry – Over 5000 years ago in ancient Egypt, Hesy-Re was the earliest known dentist, with a title of 'greatest (or chief?) of physicians and dentists'. This distinction between the two, shows a high degree of medical specialization in this early stage of history. Egyptians could cure dental problems by pulling teeth and drilling out cavities and had the ability of performing dental bridges or prosthetic applications. There were also a range of dental treatments including packing teeth with an antiseptic composite, and using a “mouthwash” to relieve inflammation and pain.
· Nobody likes a cling-on – Avoid hard candies and sugary things that stick. Besides how often you snack, the length of time sugary food is in your mouth plays a role in developing cavities. Unless it is a sugar-free product, candies that stay in the mouth for a long period of time subject teeth to an increased risk for tooth decay. The stickier candies, like taffy and gummy bears, also take longer to get washed away by saliva.
· The first toothbrushes were a bit shady – Chewing on tree twigs spread out the fibers, which were then used to clean the teeth. Today, either manual or powered toothbrushes can be used effectively. A newer kind of toothbrush, ionic toothbrushes remove plaque with ions, which are molecules that carry a net positive or negative charge. In a short-term study, ionic toothbrushes significantly reduced plaque and gingivitis. A fun trivia point: More people use blue toothbrushes than red ones. Other reminders: use a toothbrush that has soft bristles. Replace toothbrushes every three to four months or more often if the bristles are visibly matted or frayed.
· Drink More Water – To balance out your sugary treats, drinking water instead of soda or sport drinks, will help rinse away sugar that would otherwise cling to teeth. Additionally, sugar makes the pH levels in your mouth unbalanced, water will help to balance those out.
· Do you really want to put that in your mouth?– Modern toothpaste has only been available for around the past hundred years, before the minty white substance we now call toothpaste, humans used all kinds of mixtures to clean their teeth. Substances such as crushed oyster shells, ground chalk, charcoal, pulverized brick, lemon juice and salt were all early forms of tooth cleaners. Ancient Greeks even used pumice, talc, alabaster, coral powder or iron rust as toothpaste. All of these you would certainly want to rinse out quickly. However, with today’s toothpaste, you may reap the benefits by not rinsing after brushing, since it will allow the fluoride to be fully absorbed into your teeth and gums. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by strengthening the enamel and making teeth more resistant to acid attacks.
· I’d rather not, thank you – Those who don’t floss only clean 60% of tooth surfaces, making flossing an essential part of good oral hygiene. However, many people do not like doing it. In fact, A whopping 73% of Americans would rather go to the grocery store than floss their teeth.
· …AND FINALLY, brush and floss after eating – As always, brushing and flossing are the best defense against cavities. Be sure you and/or your child brush their teeth as soon after eating candy as possible to remove the harmful bacteria.
Celebrate National Dental Hygiene Month by keeping in mind these fun facts and following these few Healthy Halloween tips, will ensure that your smile remains
For more information about Oral Health and the Northeast Oral Health Project that provides free oral screenings, education, fluoride varnish application and sealants to school age children in our area schools, got to our Oral Health webpage.