Although many of us are taught as kids to wash our hands before dinner, it’s important to remember that germs don’t care what time of day it is. Clean hands help keep you from getting sick. Since the first week of December is National Handwashing Awareness Week, what better time to learn about how to keep your hands (and also your mouth) clean? A dentist is here to talk more about how to celebrate this week in style.
How to Celebrate National Handwashing Awareness Week
There are three basic ways to observe this week:
Do It Right
Experts suggest washing your hands with clean water and soap for no less than 20 seconds. Work up a good lather and clean the backs of your hands as well as between the fingers and under the fingernails. Finally, use a clean towel to dry your hands off.
Memorize the Five Steps
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called handwashing a “do-it yourself vaccine” because it helps keep bacteria that cause disease at bay. The CDC also recommends following these five steps when washing your hands:
Learn the Four Principles of Hand Awareness
The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians has endorsed the following four principles:
- Wash your hands when they’re dirty and before eating.
- Don’t sneeze into your hands.
- Don’t cough into your hands.
- Don’t put your fingers in your mouth, eyes, or nose.
Why It’s Important to Have Clean Hands
Your mouth is home to billions of bacteria, many of which are actually beneficial. However, some oral bacteria can cause tooth decay and gum disease. This can occur when you neglect to wash your hands before eating or placing your fingers in your mouth.
You touch so many things on a daily basis. Now imagine how many of those things were touched by other people’s hands. Picture all the other things they touched that day. Pretty gross, right? That’s why you should wash your hands several times a day, especially before eating, and avoid placing your hands in or near your mouth.
About the Author
Dr. Christopher Holland obtained his dental degree form the prestigious University of Texas Health Science Center in 1990. He now practices at New Image Dentistry in San Antonio. He has undergone extensive training in many areas of dentistry, including dental implants, Invisalign, sedation, and obstructive sleep apnea treatment. To learn more about how to protect your oral health, click here to visit Dr. Holland’s website.