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October 2005

NHM Health Focus: Dental Hygiene

Oral Health
  - Diet and Oral Health (ADA)
  - Women's Oral Health (AGD)
  - Men's Oral Health (AGD)
  - Adult Oral Health (CDC)
  - Cleaning Your Teeth and Gums (ADA)
  - Preventing Cavities, Gum Disease, & Tooth Loss (CDC)
  - Mouth and Dental Disorders (Merck)

Oral Health and other Health Conditions
  - Oral Health and Overall Health (Mayo Clinic)
  - Mouth Body Connection (AAP)
  - Diseases and Oral Health (Aetna)

  - Spit Tobacco, A Guide for Quitting (NIDR)
  - Tobacco and Oral Health (ASH)

Your Mouth, Teeth, and Gums
  - Atlas of the Body: Teeth (AMA)
  - Behind Your Smile (Mayo Clinic)

Oral Health Resources For Students
  - Healthy Teeth (Nova Scotia Dental Assn.)
  - Smile (BAM, HHS)
  - Worried About Bad Breath (NWHIC, HHS)

Oral Health Resources for Teachers
Classroom Ideas and Resources (ADA)
  - My Body, the Inside Story Henry County Schools

The American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA) sponsors National Dental Hygiene Month to increase public awareness of specific dental hygiene-related issues and to recognize the contributions dental hygienists make as they reach out to their communities. This year the focus of National Dental Hygiene Month (NDHM) is "the relationship between tobacco use and the increased prevalence of heart disease, and how these are linked to oral health."

"Recent studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease." (AAP)

"Periodontal bacteria can enter the blood stream and travel to major organs and begin new infections. Research is suggesting that this may:

  • Contribute to the development of heart disease, the nation's leading cause of death.
  • Increase the risk of stroke.
  • Increase a woman's risk of having a preterm, low birth weight baby.
  • Pose a serious threat to people whose health is compromised by diabetes, respiratory diseases, or osteoporosis."
    (American Academy of Periodontology)

We also know that:

  • "Mouth and throat diseases, which range from cavities to cancer, cause pain and disability for millions of Americans. This fact is disturbing because almost all oral diseases can be prevented." (CDC)
  • "Tooth loss has more than cosmetic effects—it may contribute to nutrition problems by limiting the types of food that a person can eat." (CDC)

Avoiding tobacco products, spending a few minutes after each meal on dental hygiene, and selecting healthy foods have been shown to improve both current and future quality of life. Check Behind Your Smile, for information on your mouth and teeth. For more detailed and technical information please see the Merck Manual.

Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum has these resources related to dental health: