Thanksgiving. . . Christmas. . . Easter. . . Fourth of July. . . Memorial Day. . . These fun holidays punctuate our calendars, creating memories and traditions for families in wonderful ways. But, there are a few more holidays that often get overlooked, such as:
- National Hugging Day (January 21)
- National No Housework Day (April 7)
- World Migratory Bird Day (May 13)
- International Bacon Day (September 2)
- International Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19)
While these holidays are certainly worth celebrating, (especially that no housework one!) there is one more holiday that might go unnoticed and be an especially important one to note. That is World Oral Health Day.
Oral health isn’t just about brushing and flossing, though we will get to that later. There is growing research that shows the mouth is a great place to catch early warning signs for more serious health challenges, such as diabetes and heart disease. Inflammation and plaque in the mouth can be an indicator of problems in other parts of the body.
While it might not involve paper hearts or a jolly old man bringing gifts, World Oral Health Day is a holiday that merits celebration all year long. We’ve created a list of our top suggestions to keep the spirit of the oral health season alive year-round.
The Old Standby
This won’t come as a surprise, but one of the best practices is simply to brush your teeth twice a day. Hit those back molars and tight spaces. An electric toothbrush might be a good investment. They are effective at hitting spots and cleaning things that a standard toothbrush just can’t. It’s the perfect Oral Health Day stocking stuffer.
Get in the Tight Spots
Next to brushing, flossing is the most common advice. It is also pretty commonly ignored. Don’t be a flossing grinch. There are several different kinds of floss and flossers. Find one that works for you and start the habit. Flossing clears the teeth of bacteria causing food particles. It’s worth the extra time. To finish cleaning out those crevices, follow up with a good mouthwash.
Do not Ignore the Tongue
Teeth usually get all the attention, but your oral health is about your entire mouth, and the tongue plays a big part in that. Give it a quick brush while you are brushing your teeth. If you feel extra ambitious, check out a tongue scraper.
Watch What You Eat and Drink
Holidays are known for good food and lots of it. World Oral Health Day is a great time to think about how your eating is affecting your mouth. Coffee, tea, and soda are all highly acidic. Acids can weaken your teeth and leave you vulnerable to cavities. Cutting them out is ideal, but perhaps not realistic. Consider cutting down or using a straw and following any of these drinks with plenty of water to rinse away the acidic residue.
The fact that sugar is bad for your teeth is not a revelation. But, we love sweets! Try to pair sweets with mealtimes. Your mouth is busy with chewing and swallowing, which means more saliva–the broom of your mouth. A good mouthwash after sweets is also a good idea.
Eat Your Veggies (and Fruits)
Enough with what not to eat–let’s focus on what to eat on this special holiday and every other day of the year. Raw fruits and vegetables are chock full of vitamins and minerals for your body, but they are also fantastic for your teeth. Their natural crunch scrubs your mouth and strengthens the enamel.
Check in With Your Dentist
Preventative care with a dentist will go a long way in your celebration of World Oral Health Day. . . and your ability to enjoy pretty much every other day of the year. Regular cleanings and x-rays will spot any problems before they get out of control, and it also helps keep you motivated to take care of your mouth between visits. Life is busy, and squeezing in dental appointments can feel daunting. A quick search can find a walk-in dentist near you and even a 24-hour emergency dentist to meet your needs.
Save Your Teeth for Food
It is easy to fall into the trap of using our teeth for all kinds of things, but it is best to use them for the job they were designed to do: Eat Food. When our teeth become bottle and package openers, there is a risk of damage. Grab the scissors and can openers and save your teeth for the good stuff.
Protect Those Chompers
Mouthguards are not the most glamorous accessory, but they are becoming much more popular and acceptable, which is great news. Dental damage is both painful and expensive. Wearing a mouthguard while participating in sports or other potentially dangerous activities will save you pain and money in the long run. If the standard mouthguards are uncomfortable, consider investing in one that is molded to your mouth specifically. If it makes it more likely to be worn, it will be worth the investment.
Tis the Season
While there aren’t any bestselling World Oral Health Day music albums (yet) and there might not be any Pinterest boards dedicated to themed parties, it is a day worth noting. Our mouths are an insightful window into the rest of our health. They deserve our attention and care. Considering how much our mouths do for us, it isn’t asking too much to give them a little extra attention and celebration.