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Sacramento, Calif. — With pandemic mask requirements easing, the California Dental Association urges everyone to brush up on healthy oral hygiene habits that include brushing for two minutes, twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing and seeing your dentist for regular checkups.
“As people increasingly go back to their offices, businesses or schools without masks, they’ll want to have a healthy smile that’s best achieved by practicing good oral hygiene habits to reduce the risk of cavities and more serious dental problems later on,” said Dr. Ariane Terlet, president of the California Dental Association. “Removing plaque from the mouth by brushing for two minutes, twice a day and flossing daily is key to maintaining healthy teeth and gums.”
To help develop healthy, lifelong habits, parents and guardians should introduce a good oral hygiene routine to their children at a young age by wiping off baby’s teeth/gums with a damp washcloth at least twice per day and after feedings. Begin brushing children’s teeth with a pea-sized dab of toothpaste at age 2 and continue helping them brush and floss their teeth until they have mastered the skill – usually around age 8.
CDA also recommends replacing toothbrushes every three to four months or when bristles show signs of wear. Worn-out toothbrushes can’t properly clean teeth and could injure gum tissue.
In addition to brushing and flossing, it is important to eat a balanced diet, limit between-meal snacking and drink plenty of water to keep gums hydrated and rinse away food particles that would otherwise stay in the mouth and allow bacteria to grow. Choose water instead of soda or sugary drinks and eat fruits and vegetables to help promote saliva flow.
During the pandemic, dental practices are safely providing care to patients by adhering to stringent infection control guidelines and office protocols established by the California Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“A survey of California dentists shows that 94% are vaccinated against COVID-19 and most plan to get a booster shot every time it is recommended,” said Terlet. “Dentists’ high-vaccination rate and strict infection control protocols should give patients confidence that they can safely resume their oral health care routine and regular dental visits.”
Good oral hygiene habits in every stage of life are essential for a healthy mouth and body. See a dentist at the first sign of pain or infection because a small problem caught early should be treated before it turns into a bigger one — cavities will spread if left untreated and can eventually lead to gum disease, infection and other health issues.
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