Healthy Resolutions for a Brighter Smile
Failure to keep New Year’s resolutions is so commonplace these days that it has become an easy punch line for many jokes. Studies have found only eight percent of people actually keep their resolutions annually.
But resolving to improve your dental health – and actually making good on that resolution – is very accomplishable if you follow these 10 tips. And keeping this resolution will go a long way toward giving you a brighter, healthier smile in the coming year:
Brush Twice Daily
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time, but only 49 percent of American men pick up their toothbrushes more than once a day. At 57 percent, American women don’t fare much better. Adding another two-minute brushing session to your day is an easy resolution that requires minimal effort – but delivers mouth-friendly results.
Commit to Flossing
Though everyone should floss at least once a day to help remove debris and plaque from teeth, only 49 percent of Americans say they do – and 10 percent say they never floss. If you’re part of the half that flosses less than the recommended amount, fix that in 2016. It’s as easy as unspooling 18 inches of floss and adding two minutes to your nightly bedtime routine.
One way to make it easier to remember is putting a container of floss on top of or directly next to toothpaste. Position the container so that you have to touch it when taking your toothpaste out of the drawer or cabinet. Stash another container of floss in your purse or desk drawer at work, so that you can floss on the go if you forget to do it at home.
Stop Using Your Teeth as Tools
Your teeth are tools – ones meant for chewing and tearing food, not ripping plastic packages or popping bottle caps open. Using your teeth for tasks like this – or for gnawing on pencils, ice, popcorn kernels or other hard objects – can result in chipped or cracked teeth, possibly even requiring a root canal.
Swap your Gum
If you’re a regular gum chewer, swap your sugary pack for a sugar-free one. With flavor options ranging from delectable desserts to good old spearmint, there’s no reason not to switch to guilt-free gum. Bonus: Chewing sugar-free gum generates saliva, which helps rinse stray food particles and acid from teeth. Double bonus: Chew gum with xylitol, which is a non-sugar sweetener that reduces plaque.
Trade in Your Toothbrush Every Three Months
The new year is the perfect time to put that saying “Out with the old, in with the new” into practice. Worn bristles won’t clean your teeth as well, so if you’re not consistently swapping out your toothbrush or toothbrush head about every three months as recommended, take 60 seconds right now to go through your calendar and jot down a note to yourself to check your toothbrush every 90 days or so.
Cut Back on Sugar
Cutting back on sugar can cut your risk for tooth decay considerably. The most convenient way to cut back on sugar is to reduce the number of sugary treats you buy. Simple swaps will help you cut back as well: Drink sugar-free seltzer water instead of soda, or chew a piece of sugar-free gum when you have a craving for something sweet.
Kick the Habit
Smoking doubles your risk for gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is linked to a host of other health issues. Pick a date to give up the habit, get rid of all the tobacco products from your home and solicit the support of your friends and family to help you quit. There will be cravings along the way, so it’s important to find a healthy activity to engage in when a craving kicks in.
Flourish with Fluoride
Drink fluoridated water. Fluoride helps prevent cavities by making teeth more resistant to the acid attacks that cause them. Most bottled water does not contain fluoride where tap water does. For additional cavity prevention, make sure you use fluoride toothpaste. Your dentist can also provide fluoride treatments if you are not getting enough exposure.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating well is important for your dental health. Poor nutrition can affect the entire immune system, increasing susceptibility to many common oral disorders, including gum (periodontal) disease. Antioxidants and other nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts improve your body’s ability to fight bacteria and inflammation, helping to protect your teeth and gums. In addition, crisp fruits and raw vegetables like apples, carrots and celery help clean plaque from teeth and freshen breath.
Schedule a Dental Appointment
If it’s been a while since you’ve seen a dentist, you’re not alone. About one third of people in the U.S. don’t see a dentist yearly, according to the ADA Mouth Healthy web site. But booking this appointment is one of the most important things you can do when looking after your teeth. According to the ADA, some conditions – such as sensitivity in the teeth or bleeding gums – are sure signs that it’s time to see a dentist. Even if your teeth look and feel fine, enter a reminder in your phone or calendar for January 1 so that you can call your dentist on January 2 for an appointment.
Sources: Delta Dental, Colgate