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National Dental Hygiene Month

October is National Dental Hygiene Month—a time to focus on ways to prevent oral diseases and to recognize the role of dental hygienists in helping to improve and maintain oral health. This year, the National Dental Hygiene Month theme is “The Daily Four”. You are encouraged to talk to your dental hygienist about the four steps you can add to your daily routine that can impact your oral health and overall health.  The Daily Four are:


  • Brush teeth for two minutes, two times a day;
  • Floss every day;
  • Rinse with a mouth rinse that kills germs; and
  • Chew sugar-free gum after meals and snacks.


These four habits help to reduce the amount of plaque on your teeth. Plaque can cause your gums to become red, swollen and bleed easily if it’s not removed every day, and it can harden into tartar that can’t be removed by brushing and flossing. Over time, tartar can build up to the point that the bone and other tissue around the teeth become infected. This may lead to tooth loss. For more information about the Daily 4, please visit the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA) website.


National Dental Hygiene Month also shines a light on the important work of dental hygienists. A dental hygienist is a licensed professional who has graduated from a two- or four-year education program. A dental hygienist’s primary focus is on preventing oral diseases, such as tooth decay and gum disease.  Typical duties of a dental hygienist include evaluating a patient’s mouth (including the teeth, gums and bone around the teeth), taking dental radiographs (x-rays), performing a dental prophylaxis (cleaning), applying dental sealants and fluoride to prevent decay, and educating patients about how to improve oral health.


Most dental hygienists work in dental offices or dental clinics. Public health dental hygienists, like those who work for the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), focus on improving the oral health of entire communities. ODH dental hygienists:


  • Work with local agencies to run school-based dental sealant and fluoride mouth rinse programs.
  • Help increase access to dental care in communities.
  • Promote community water fluoridation.
  • Provide support to safety net dental clinics in providing care to lower-income Ohioans.
  • Provide training and educational materials to doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers in the community on how to improve the oral health of their patients.   
  • Conduct oral health screening surveys to measure the amount of dental disease among various groups of Ohioans.


Visit the Oral Health program website to learn more about these activities and the ADHA website to learn about the various career paths for dental hygienists.


We are also pleased to share that the 2018 American Dental Hygienists’ Association Annual Conference will be held in Columbus, Ohio on June 20-25, 2018.


Page Updated: 10/4/17