VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE -- The dental flight, within the 30th Medical Operations Squadron, is currently celebrating October's National Dental Hygiene Month. The month aims to help raise public awareness on the topic of good oral health and focuses on three main components – brushing teeth daily, flossing, and smart nutrition.

Below are some tips from Vandenberg dental technicians on how to maintain a healthy, clean mouth.

- Use a soft bristle tooth brush, and brush for at least two minutes.

- When brushing the back of your mouth don’t open your mouth all the way because there is a muscle that prevents you from brushing the very back of your teeth. You will reach more surface area of your teeth if you close your mouth a little.

- Don’t brush aggressively; plaque is really soft, so gentle brushing is more ideal. If you brush too hard you can brush away your gum tissue and your tooth enamel, which causes sensitivity.

- It’s good to brush after you rinse with mouthwash, because mouthwash kills the bacteria but does not get rid of the bacteria.

- Whitening toothpaste scrapes off your tooth enamel over time. Recommended toothpaste is any kind with fluoride in it and the blue stamp of approval from the American Dental Association.

- Brush the very back of your bottom teeth with strokes going up and down.

- Flossing is very important, because a toothbrush cannot clean in between each tooth. The floss should create a c-shape around each tooth, and then gently scrape in an up and down motion. The most important reason to floss is to break up the formation of plaque, because plaque builds every 24 hours.

- Floss the very back of your last molar, because there is a flap of gum sitting on your tooth and plaque can easily get trapped in there.

- Brush your child’s teeth until they are around seven years old, to ensure teeth are being cleaned thoroughly.

- After drinking or eating something sugary make sure to drink water afterwards. The sugar in your mouth will change your pH level which causes the acid in your mouth to become unbalanced. Sipping a sugary drink or snacking throughout the day will cause more bacteria to form in your mouth, resulting in plaque.

- Gingivitis and your gum health can lead to heart, and other health problems, because the plaque and bacteria can travel into your blood stream.

- See the dentist for a cleaning at least annually.

For any questions or concerns, please contact the 30th MDOS dental clinic at 805-606-1846.