By Alex Burt
Titan Shout President
October is National Dental Hygiene Month and a time to focus on taking care of your overall health by taking care of your teeth.
There are many ways one can do this: visiting a dentist every six months to get a checkup, following a routine plan at home twice daily, and buying the right type of toothbrush and toothpaste that are just for you. Also, keep in touch with your dentist and inform him or her of teeth difficulties during your home care system can help prevent oral surgery down the road and save you tons of money.
Jennifer Fulk, an instructor in GTCC's dental hygiene program, mentioned several ways in which each person can better care for their teeth. According to Fulk, when people first learn about oral care, they do not realize there are several mistakes they can make and learn from. “Most dentist professionals will tell you that the biggest mistake that people make is not realizing that the mouth, including the teeth, is connected to the rest of the body,” she said. In other words, your entire mouth is a gateway to your overall health and connects everything to everywhere in your body.
Some of the most common food and drinks, like chips, coffee, and soda, can wreak havoc on our teeth. Fulk states, “Food and drinks that are sugary, acidic and/or sticky are most damaging to teeth. More frequent exposures do more damage. In other words, sucking on hard candies or sipping on sodas or coffee with sugar can cause the tooth enamel to break down the fastest.” There are plenty of alternatives for the foods that we enjoy the most and can help prevent tooth damage: salads, healthy sandwiches, or even plain yogurt.
Many companies sell a variety of toothpastes, and they come with different advantages for your specific dental needs. “Toothpaste with fluoride helps to strengthen the outside layer of enamel making it more resistant to tooth decay. Anti-tartar toothpaste helps to keep soft, sticky plaque from turning into hard tartar or calculus. Only a dental professional can remove calculus. Desensitizing toothpaste has chemicals that help to protect exposed root surfaces,” Fulk explained. Again, the toothpaste you choose depends on what your dentist recommends you use.
Each person has a different daily tooth care routine. There are several ways in which a person can conduct a cleaning routine, but the following is the best way. “The most effective care routine would include brushing at least twice a day, preferably with a powered toothbrush, cleaning in between the teeth with string floss, a water flosser or interdental brush,” said Fulk. Again, this just depends on what you normally do for your teeth.
Poor dental hygiene affects overall health in many ways. It can lower your self-esteem, increase your anxiety, and prevent you from smiling to others. “As mentioned above, poor oral hygiene affects many other body systems and in extreme cases, loss of life occurs when an untreated abscess gets to the brain,” Fulk said. So take your dental hygiene care seriously, and when you take care of your teeth, you will smile more and be more confident.
GTCC Dental Hygiene Clinic
For those in need of dental care, the GTCC Dental Hygiene Clinic provides cleaning and x-rays during all semesters and fillings on a limited basis in the Spring. The cost is $5 for a cleaning and approximately $5 for x-rays. The clinic operates all day Tuesday and Thursday. All of the work is completed by students and supervised by licensed dental hygienists so the process takes much longer than private practice. Children, age 3 and up, adolescents, and all adults are welcome! Please call the front desk at (336) 334-4822 X50251 for an appointment.