CHICAGO, Oct. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- "Want Some Life-Saving Advice? Ask Your
Dental Hygienist" how gum disease promotes heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and
That's the question dental hygienists want Americans to ask during
October's 9th annual National Dental Hygiene Month (NDHM), according to
American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA) President Ann Naber, RDH. In
response, dental hygienists will educate patients about the mounting evidence
linking poor oral health to numerous life-threatening diseases, Naber
"Around this same time last year, the Surgeon General's office released a
landmark report, Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General,
confirming a link between gum disease and heart and lung diseases," Naber
said, adding that more than 75 percent of adults suffer from some form of gum
"Disease-causing bacteria that live in the mouth spread toxins to the
heart and other parts of the body via the circulatory system," Naber
"This symbiotic connection broadens today's dental hygienists' scope of
care to include not just expertise in preventing oral diseases but also
diagnostic understanding of other systemic diseases that have oral
manifestations," Naber said.
In order to maintain optimal oral health, Naber suggested people implement
a few simple hygiene habits such as daily flossing into an oral health care
In fact, a University of Chicago researcher found that daily flossing can
add 6-12 years to a person's life -- comparable to quitting smoking.
And according to the Surgeon General's Report, fluoride is another example
of an underutilized prevention tool.
The 1945 advent of fluoridated drinking water was one of the 20th
Century's 10 greatest achievements -- an effective, safe and inexpensive way
to prevent tooth decay for people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds,
the Report stated.
But despite its proven effectiveness, almost half of U.S. water supplies
still are not fluoridated, which translates into 18,000 communities and more
than 40 million children who do not receive fluoride in their drinking water.
Even if they live in areas that don't have fluoridated drinking water,
Naber said individuals can best improve their oral health by eating a healthy
diet, maintaining good oral hygiene, along with adopting health-promoting
behaviors like quitting smoking and regular oral health care exams.
Sponsored by the American Dental Hygienists' Association, NDHM began in
1985 as a week-long observance designed to raise public awareness about
preventive oral health care.
By 1993, NDHM activities had grown so varied and widespread that a week
was not enough to fit all the projects planned by dental hygienists and
corporate supporters around the country so it was expanded to include the
entire month of October.
ADHA encourages community leaders to contact their local dental hygiene
associations to learn more about NDHM programs and activities.
ADHA is the largest national organization representing the professional
interests of the more than 100,000 dental hygienists across the country.
Dental hygienists are preventive oral health professionals, licensed in
dental hygiene, who specialize in the prevention and treatment of oral
diseases in order to protect total health.
If you would like more information about dental hygiene, preventive oral
health, or the connection between periodontal (gum) disease and life-
threatening illnesses such as heart disease; diabetes; low-birthweight babies,
or respiratory ailments, visit ADHA at www.adha.org .
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SOURCE American Dental Hygienists' Association