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Vandenberg observes National Dental Hygiene Month

Senior Airman Shane Phipps, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs photojournalist, has his teeth cleaned by Rhodora Pablo, 30th Medical Operations Squadron dental hygienist, Oct. 10, 2014, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The dental flight, within the 30th Medical Operations Squadron, is currently celebrating October’s National Dental Hygiene month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ian Dudley/Released)

Senior Airman Shane Phipps, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs photojournalist, has his teeth cleaned by Rhodora Pablo, 30th Medical Operations Squadron dental hygienist, Oct. 10, 2014, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The dental flight, within the 30th Medical Operations Squadron, is currently celebrating October’s National Dental Hygiene month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ian Dudley/Released)

Senior Airman Shane Phipps, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs photojournalist, has his teeth cleaned by Rhodora Pablo, 30th Medical Operations Squadron dental hygienist, Oct. 10, 2014, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The dental flight, within the 30th Medical Operations Squadron, is currently celebrating October’s National Dental Hygiene month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ian Dudley/Released)

Senior Airman Shane Phipps, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs photojournalist, has his teeth cleaned by Rhodora Pablo, 30th Medical Operations Squadron dental hygienist, Oct. 10, 2014, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The dental flight, within the 30th Medical Operations Squadron, is currently celebrating October’s National Dental Hygiene month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ian Dudley/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- 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 four main components - brushing teeth twice daily, flossing every day, rinsing with mouthwash and chewing sugar-free gum.

"I feel proud to be celebrating dental hygiene because it's my profession and I take it very seriously," said Rhodora Pablo, 30th MDOS dental hygienist. "Dental hygiene is important because having good oral-health effects the whole body and ensures you're mission ready."

For the 30th MDOS dental practitioners, following the four basic pillars of good oral health is essential.

"The basic components that we try to pass on to everyone are brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, rinse with mouth wash and also chew sugar-free gum when possible," said Lt. Col. Jill Cherry, 30th MDOS dental flight commander. "Chewing gum is important for multiple reasons. When you chew gum, you salivate which helps neutralize destructive acids produced by bacteria. Also, xylitol is a sweetener found in a lot of sugar-free gum which inhibits the growth of bacteria."

Similar to all other aspects of healthcare, taking preventative measures in oral hygiene is a necessity.

"It's very important to ensure your homecare is up to par," said Pablo. "We can't be with the patients everyday but if they make the basics a part of their routine, they will prevent dental problems. It makes me feel great when a patient has taken care of their teeth and comes in. I really feel like I've done my job."

Dental leadership agrees the real key to success is achieved by obtaining a firm understanding of how a few simple practices can affect oral health.

"Our patients are primarily active duty Airmen and we tend to find that they brush well enough but aren't flossing enough," said Cherry. "A lot of cavities are formed in-between the teeth and a toothbrush can't get there alone. Additionally, it's important Airmen know there are two types of mouth rinse and it depends on what they need most. If you have gingivitis, you want an antimicrobial rinse, but if you get a lot of cavities you want a rinse with fluoride in it -- and always ensure it has the American Dental Association seal of approval."