Dec 01, 2019

December is a pretty busy month, with plenty of holidays to go around: Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanzaa, to name a few. But there are also a few more obscure observances going on this month. For example, did you know that the first week of December is National Handwashing Awareness Week? It sounds like a silly holiday, but as your dentist will tell you, it’s an important one to celebrate. Keep reading to learn why.

Why It’s Important To Wash Your Hands

Picture how many different things you touch on a daily basis. Now imagine how many of those things were previously touched by other people’s hands. Gross, right? That’s why you’re going to want to make sure your hands are clean before you put them anywhere near your mouth.

Keeping your hands clean before eating can prevent the spread of disease. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called washing your hands a “do-it-yourself vaccine,” because of how effective this habit is at keeping germs at bay.

You may have heard of a phenomenon called “antibiotic resistance.” This refers to bacteria evolving to become stronger than the antibiotics that are supposed to kill them off. Washing your hands regularly prevents illness, meaning that fewer people need antibiotics. Therefore, les antibiotic resistance is created.

Now that we know this, what exactly is the best way to wash your hands? Let’s take a closer look.

The Proper Handwashing Technique

Experts suggest letting your hands stay under the water for at least 20 seconds. Get a good lather going and clean the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails. Use a clean towel to dry them. Follow these directions every single time you wash your hands for maximum effectiveness.

Another thing to keep in mind is the Four Principles of Hand Awareness, a set of rules designed to help you keep your hands clean. Endorsed by both the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians, the rules are as follows:

  • Wash your hands when they are dirty and before eating.
  • Don’t sneeze into your hands.
  • Don’t cough into your hands.
  • Don’t put your fingers in your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Personal hygiene starts with our hands, and no one knows that better than your dentist. Keep these tips in mind as you observe National Handwashing Awareness Week!

About The Author

Dr. C. Romesh Weerasooriya earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from the University of Florida’s College of Dentistry in 1994. Throughout his career, he has completed more than 1,000 hours of continuing education to better serve his patients’ needs. He takes a “holistic” approach to dentistry by treating a patient’s long-term, overall health in addition to the health of their teeth and gums, which is why he believes having clean hands is crucial.