Smile, it’s dental hygiene month

By Gabrielle Fiorella
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Master Sgt. Kara Shores, 86th Dental Squadron Chief of Preventive Dentistry, flosses Airman 1st Class Blake Duty’s teeth, showing part of the annual teeth cleaning procedure. Dental Hygiene month celebrates the work dental hygienists do and helps raise awareness on the importance of good oral health. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Milton Hamilton)


The 86th Ramstein Dental Clinic is promoting Dental Hygiene Month for the month of October.

Dental Hygiene month is an effort to celebrate the work dental hygienists do and helps raise awareness on the importance of good oral health.

“This year, the clinic is focusing on four routines that can help people maintain healthy smiles, such as brushing, flossing, rinsing, and chewing,” said Master Sgt. Kara Shores, 86th Dental Squadron Chief of Preventive Dentistry.


Dental hygiene refers to the practice of keeping the mouth, teeth, and gums clean to prevent disease.

Airman 1st Class Blake Duty, 86th Dental Squadron periodontal technician, sits in a dental chair to show what patients would experience during a routine teeth cleaning. The on base dental clinic provides examination and cleaning once per year for active duty military unless a patient has other periodontal needs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Milton Hamilton)

A common mistake people make is using the wrong toothbrush, which can cause gums to shrink away and recede faster than usual, said Shores.

“Skipping flossing or only flossing before a dentist appointment puts you at a higher risk of periodontal disease and early tooth loss,” said Shores.

Other ways of ensuring good oral health include eating regular nutritious meals, avoiding frequent between-meal snacking, and protecting your teeth with fluoride by using fluoride toothpaste and drinking fluorinated water, said Shores.

“Rinsing your teeth can also help eliminate biofilm and bacteria that brushing and flossing cannot,” said Shores. “The chance of dental decay and infection is reduced by rinsing often and chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals.”

Sometimes people don’t know when to go to the dentist or how often to go.

“On-base services provide 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,” said Shores.

Dental Hygiene Month is important because it spreads awareness and educates patients about the concerns regarding their oral health, said Shores. Dentists and dental hygienists just want their patients to be happy and healthy.