The new year brings with it opportunities to look at our health circumstances and make lifestyle changes that will support us going forward. We often here friends, family and colleagues discussing their weight loss goals for the year, and while a healthy body weight is a worthy objective, your dentist would love if your new year’s resolutions included oral health goals. Since our oral health is often linked to our systemic well-being, we think that new year’s resolutions should include the ways that we intend to care for our oral health in 2019. The better your oral health year-over-year, the better served you will be as your teeth and gum health improves and remains in good health as we age.
1. Start Flossing Daily
A new year’s resolution to start flossing daily is a great objective to begin with. Flossing your teeth directly impacts the risk of decay between the teeth, and positively impacts the inflammation levels in the soft tissues of the mouth. Flossing removes food debris as well as plaque bacteria from between the teeth and gums and, as a result, gums are less exposed to irritants which can cause gingivitis and sensitivity. If you intend to start flossing daily for the first time, you should expect some mild bleeding despite your efforts to be gentle. This is not an indication that you should stop flossing, rather it is an indication that plaque bacteria and debris have caused irritation to the gum tissues. With increased frequency of flossing the inflammation in the tissues will begin to subside and your gums will stop bleeding during flossing.
2. No More Skipped Brushing
Many of us believe that we have excellent oral health regimens, but if we are honest about the number of times that we neglect to follow through with our oral health routines daily, the calendar may tell another story. This is particularly true for those patients who have a tendency to skip evening brushing as a result of falling asleep in front of the television. While occasionally skipping brushing may seem inconsequential in the moment, the reality is that when we don’t brush our teeth before going to sleep for the night, the teeth and gums are left to endure the implications of high bacterial count in the oral cavity and the associated acid attack on the enamel and small tissues. Ensuring that you brush your teeth a minimum of twice a day in the morning and at night decreases the likelihood of gingivitis due to irritation, as well as cavities and tartar. Brushing the teeth keeps bacterial counts in check and keeps bad breath at bay. If you tend to skip the toothbrush at the end of the day, we suggest brushing your teeth immediately following your last meal.
3. Improve Nutrition
There are so many reasons to improve our nutrition that it would be hard to list them all. Where your teeth are concerned, proper nutrition ensures that minerals and vitamins required to maintain the integrity and strength of the structure of the teeth are available in abundance. A diet low in starches and processed sugars and high in dark leafy greens and other vegetables promotes overall health and decreases the risk associated with long-term exposure of the mouth to acidic substances. Being more conscious of the fuel that we take into our bodies allows us to take a preventative approach to our oral health and minimize potential challenges that could arise from poor diet. This includes increasing the amount of still water that we consume and decreasing our intake of carbonated beverages, coffee, and alcohol.
4. Attend Regular Check-ups
If you are known to delay regular appointments for dental exams and professional cleanings, a resolution to improve the frequency of your dental visits could really benefit you this year. We encourage you to discuss the recommended frequency of appointments with your dentist, as dental complications or tendencies toward decay may warrant more frequent visits to your dentist to prevent little problems from becoming big ones. Additionally, oral health checks such as oral cancer checks done by your dentist at regular check-ups can offer early detection of some oral cancers which are often treatable if caught early. Since many dental health problems can be present in the mouth without pronounced symptoms, seeing your dentist regularly for professional assessments are the best thing you can do to support your health in the long-term besides practicing a good oral health routine between visits.
5. Cut Out Negative Lifestyle Habits
If you have unhealthy lifestyle habits, you are very likely aware of them. The likelihood that you will act to change them varies greatly from person to person, since we all have different motivation for the lifestyles that we choose to live. Negative lifestyle habits that affect the teeth and mouth often affect the rest of the body. Cutting out habits such as smoking, chewing tobacco or consuming alcohol frequently are the most well-known habits to cut, however, drinking soda or consuming a diet rich in processed food and sugars can also be detrimental to the health of your teeth and gums.