We’re celebrating Oral Health Month in June, and you’re invited! We care for every part of our body, so why should our mouths be neglected? Supported by the American Dental Association, Oral Health Month is a reminder about the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene, always.
History of Oral Health Month
People have been watching their oral health for a long time. The initial toothbrushes were made of tree twigs. People would chew on the twigs to spread the fibers, which acted like bristles to clean their teeth. In fact, the ancient Greeks used pumice, talc, alabaster, coral powder, or iron rust as toothpaste.
A dentist in Connecticut, Alfred Fones, understood the importance of oral healthcare and trained his cousin to become the first dental hygienist. This gave an impetus for the very first dental hygiene program to be established in Bridgeport, Connecticut, by Dr. Fones. Years later, the American Dental Hygiene Association was formed and, soon, all 50 states of America had licensed dental hygienists. This advancement resulted in the innovation of several healthcare and technology devices that brought oral health to what it is now. A special book commonly called the “Dental Hygiene Bible” (real name, “1st Edition of Clinical Practice of The Dental Hygienist”) was published by Dr. Esther Wilkins during this time.
The Civil Rights Movement was also responsible for contributing to changes in oral health. The ADHA lifted its previous restrictions for admissions based on race, color, and creed. They soon also lifted the word ‘female’ from the ADHA constitution, allowing males to graduate in dental hygiene. Jack Orio became the first male student to do so.
As the American Dental Association believes, several items that make present oral healthcare much easier were developed in the 17th century — such as the usage of white enamel for teeth and nitrous oxide as anesthesia — and the next years were instrumental in establishing dental hygiene as a practice across America. Another historic milestone was the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 19th century, which is when personal protective equipment became mandated for all dental healthcare professionals.
Oral Health Month timeline
An Egyptian by the name of Hesi-Re is the world’s earliest recorded dentist.
A Chinese medical text shows silver paste is used as a mixture to maintain oral health.
American dentist Josiah Flagg invents a dental chair with extended armrests to hold medical instruments and an adjustable headrest, forever changing the dental hygiene experience as we know it.
Toothpaste in tubes is easily available, helping more people improve their oral health cheaply.
One of Sir Isaac Newton's teeth sells in London for $3,633 and is set in a ring.
Lucy Beaman Hobbs becomes the first licensed female dentist.
Commercial floss is first manufactured.
Irene Newman, a dental assistant, is trained to clean teeth, becoming the first dental hygienist.
Developed in Switzerland, electric toothbrushes first appear in America.
Oral Health Month FAQs
Is April Oral Health Month?
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, to emphasize awareness and treatment of oral cancer.
Is there a National Children's Dental Health Month?
National Children’s Dental Health Month is celebrated in February. The American Dental Association honors all dental professionals and people who are passionate about children’s dental health.
Why is oral health important?
Good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing, along with our body’s natural defenses, keep mouth bacteria under control. Without such interventions, this bacteria can cause tooth decay, gum disease, and more severe problems.
How To Celebrate Oral Health Month
Take care of oral issues
Read up on all the issues that can affect your oral health. Make note of everything you can do together with your family to better your oral health like brushing, flossing, and more. A healthy mouth leads to a happy life, we believe, and Oral Health Month is the perfect time to start taking care of it.
Smile and show off your oral health
Have a perfect set of pearly whites? Show them off to the world and share your tips on how to maintain good oral health. You can even post a picture of you, your smile, and your family, all taking care of your oral health together. Encourage others to do the same. Liking and sharing others’ efforts counts too.
Made a dental appointment
Visit your dentist for a quick oral check-up. You can also schedule a visit to the dental hygienist and share your experience to encourage others to do the same.
5 Interesting Facts About Teeth
Teeth cannot heal themselves
Teeth are the only part of the body that cannot heal themselves.
We see only a part of our teeth
We actually see only 1/3 of our teeth; the other ⅔ is hidden under the gums.
Smiles are the first thing people notice
50% of people say smiles are the very first feature they notice about other people.
We spend almost 40 days brushing our teeth
On average, people spend around 38.5 days in their lifetime brushing their teeth.
Flossing is a lifesaver
Dentists say flossing can increase life expectancy by six years, as it reduces chances of infectious diseases and even prevents heart attacks.
Why We Love Oral Health Month
Healthy pearly whites
Oral Health Month reminds us of all the ways we can protect our teeth. Since smiles are the first things people see, we want them to be our brightest feature. That, plus good oral hygiene helps keep our teeth and gums healthy too.
We honor those who came before
We believe emphasizing oral health honors the work of everyone who had a hand in taking dentistry and oral health to the heights it enjoys today. They worked tirelessly towards better oral health; the least we can do is maintain this practice in our own lives.
Healthy by association
Good oral hygiene practices keep your teeth and gums in top shape and influence your loved ones to do the same too. The more we learn about various healthy practices, the more we take pride in maintaining them, and subsequently, the bigger the difference we can make in our family’s and friends’ oral health.
Oral Health Month dates