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October Wellness: Trick or Teeth

October Wellness: Trick or Teeth

| September 22, 2023

October is here!  Bring on the ghouls, goblins, witches and haunted houses!  It’s the time of year when we beg to be scared, we walk (willingly) in fear of what’s around the corner and then celebrate at the end of the month by consuming more candy in one day than we do in a whole year. Ironically, for some of us there is nothing more frightening than a visit to the dentist, or discovering we have an issue with our teeth and/or gums. So before we eat the national average of approximately 3.4 pounds of candy on Halloween, it seems only right we should suitably prepare all month long. (Halloween Candy: How much is too much?, 2022)

October is National Dental Hygiene Month, so this challenge is right in line with the buzz of health awareness initiatives. National Dental Hygiene Month has been around since the mid-1980s and is observed every October to raise awareness on the importance of good oral health. Last month, we were fortunate enough to host a Continuing Education Class in our office called “Dental Basics” and our instructor (who held a background as a dental hygienist) shared some very interesting dental tips and tricks. For example, if you want to know if you have bad breath—smell your floss.  Who knew? Flossing was a topic in our class and as you might have guessed, it turns out that Step Number One in “How to Observe National Dental Hygiene Month” is Floss Every Day. (National Dental Hygiene Month – October 2023, n.d.).

We all know the question will come up at our biannual dental visit as to whether or not we floss every day. Statistics show that about 41% of American adults do floss daily while 20% never floss at all. Beyond healthy gums and teeth, there are additional benefits to flossing that may inspire some of my anti-flossers (or at least pique your interest enough to join this month’s challenge).  Flossing disrupts the formation of biofilm which is a layer of bacteria that forms on the teeth. If we don’t remove that film, it can harden into tartar which can only be removed by a dentist. Flossing also helps reduce oral inflammation--not only in the mouth, but in other parts of the body as well. Research shows that periodontitis, also known as gum inflammation, is associated with systemic inflammation (when the immune system is constantly defending the body). So by lessening oral inflammation by flossing, we are protecting our whole body. Not sold yet? Well, a research study showed that senior citizens with signs of gum disease and mouth infections were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease suggesting that periodontal bacteria may in fact contribute to cognitive decline. (Brierley Horton, 2022)

Now that we are all convinced to start flossing, the next logical question arises. Should I brush first or floss first…the age-old debate. Researchers have found that flossing before brushing may be more efficient for a thorough removal of dental plaque. Flossing first also increases fluoride concentration making tooth enamel stronger and more resistant to decay. Counter argument? Flossing after brushing allows the brushing to remove most of the food and plaque from the surface of your teeth leaving only the hard-to-reach spots for the floss. (Orthodontists, n.d.)

Join us in Tycor’s October Trick or Teeth Challenge. You pick the order (before or after brushing) and the frequency. My beginners should aim to floss once a day all month long and my veterans can do it after every meal. For those of you who are new to the “flossiverse” let me warn you, there are a variety of floss options to choose from these days. You choose what style works best for you. Let’s prepare all month along so we can enjoy a well-deserved Halloween treat guilt free at the end of the month!  

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Sources:

Brierley Horton, M. S. (2022, June 6). 6 Reasons to Floss That Have Nothing to Do with Your Teeth, According to a Dentist. Retrieved from www.eatingwell.com: https://www.eatingwell.com/article/7964259/reasons-to-floss-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-your-teeth-according-to-a-dentist/

Halloween Candy: How much is too much? (2022, October 31). Retrieved from economictimes.com: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/us/halloween-candy-how-much-is-too-much/articleshow/95212486.cms

National Dental Hygiene Month – October 2023. (n.d.). Retrieved from nationaltoday.com: https://nationaltoday.com/national-dental-hygiene-month/

Orthodontists, A. A. (n.d.). Should I Floss or Brush First? Retrieved from aaoinfo.org: https://aaoinfo.org/blog/should-i-floss-or-brush-first/