October is National Dental Hygiene Month

  • Published
  • By Capt. Shirley Ye and Tech. Sgt. Katsiaryna Durant
  • 66th Medical Squadron Dental Clinic

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – October is a perfect time to remind people it is National Dental Hygiene Month.

National Dental Hygiene Month is a monthlong effort to celebrate the work of dental health care providers and to raise awareness of the importance of good oral health.

With Halloween approaching, there is often a lot of candy around. Candy can be highly acidic and contain a lot of sugar, which can lead to oral bacteria. That can break down tooth enamel and surrounding structures of teeth over time and, consequently, cause tooth decay and gum disease.

To help prevent decay or disease, personnel should practice good oral hygiene. Oral hygiene refers to the regular practice of keeping the mouth, teeth and gums clean.

Many studies have shown that poor oral health has been linked to some chronic health conditions, including diabetes and heart disease, pneumonia, stroke and even an increased risk of a heart attack. Thus, oral health and general health should not be interpreted as separate entities.

The 66th Medical Squadron Dental Clinic here is focusing on four routines that can help people maintain healthy smiles: brushing, flossing, rinsing and chewing.


Common mistakes made by many are using the wrong toothbrush or tooth-brushing techniques, which can cause ineffective bacteria removal, or gums to shrink away and recede faster than usual.


Oral hygiene needs to be consistent to be effective. When you don't regularly clean the areas between teeth with floss, plaque can build up in your gums and between your teeth. It could put you at higher risk of gum disease, dental cavities and even complications with other medical conditions.


Rinsing your mouth and chewing gum with Xylitol can also help eliminate biofilm and bacteria. The chance of dental decay and infection is reduced by rinsing often and chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals.


Other ways of ensuring good oral health include eating regular nutritious meals, avoiding frequent snacks and sugar-loaded drinks, as well as protecting your teeth by using fluoride toothpaste and drinking fluoridated water.

If personnel are not sure when to go to the dentist or how often, the MDS Dental Clinic provides examinations and cleanings once per year for active duty military, unless a patient has other periodontal needs. If service members prefer cleanings twice per year, many commercial dental insurance policies cover two cleanings per year.

For further information, contact the Dental Clinic at 781-225-6324 or visit https://hanscom.tricare.mil/Health-Services/Dental.