Make A New Year's Resolution for a Healthier Mouth
As the new year approaches, people collectively begin reflecting on the past year with hopes of life changing resolutions. What do we want to accomplish in the new year? What lifestyle changes do we want to make? How do we want to be better? All great questions to get us thinking.
According to Statista, the most common resolutions set last year revolved around getting healthier (exercising more, losing weight, or improving one’s diet), saving more money, or pursuing different career goals. Did you set any similar resolutions?
If getting healthier is on your list of “to-do’s” in the upcoming new year, consider making a New Year’s resolution to improve your oral health along with any other diet and exercise goals.
Mayo Clinic points out that your oral health—for good or bad—is connected to your overall health. After all, your mouth is the gateway to your stomach and digestive system along with your lungs and respiratory system.
In your mouth resides usually harmless bacteria. If not taken care of properly, harmless bacteria can become harmful bacteria. Good oral hygiene can assist you in properly taking care of harmful bacteria and prevent negative impacts to your health.
Here are five tips for improving your oral health in the New Year.
1. Two Is the Magic Number in Brushing
We’ve all been told since childhood about the importance of brushing our teeth. But, are you brushing your teeth correctly? Remember that two is the magic number.
You should be brushing your teeth twice a day—once in the morning and once in the evening before bed. Brushing twice a day helps combat the bacteria in your mouth to prevent tooth decay. It also helps reduce plaque build-up on the teeth as well as keeping the gums healthy.
When you brush, position the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle. On the outside and back of the teeth, use small circular motions. On the large molars, use a back and forth motion.
Here’s where the magic number two reappears; brush your teeth for two minutes. Set a timer on your phone or sing a song in your head that lasts for two minutes.
A final reminder about brushing your teeth; it is recommended that you replace your toothbrush or your brush head every three months. This will keep the bristles new to more easily remove plaque and keep the toothbrush free from bacteria.
2. Floss, Floss, Floss
According to our previous article, “The Truth About Flossing,” only about 50% of Americans floss. Flossing is equally important as brushing.
Brushing your teeth can only clean your mouth so much. There are certain parts of your teeth that the bristles cannot get to. Without flossing, those areas never get the attention they need and deserve.
Like brushing, flossing is needed to prevent cavities in those hard-to-reach places of your mouth. Flossing also helps prevent bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay.
We recommend flossing once a day. It doesn’t matter if you do it in the morning or the evening. Just be consistent. If you find that your mornings are rushed, it might be better to include flossing in your nighttime routine to ensure it gets done.
String floss is the most traditional method people tend to use. And, it still holds up as the most effective choice. Disposable tooth flossers are good for occasional use, especially if you have something stuck between your teeth after a meal. However, they shouldn’t replace string floss for daily use.
If you haven’t flossed in a while, you will experience bleeding and soreness when you start flossing. This is normal. Just keep with it. The bleeding and inflammation will decrease after a few days.
3. Fluoride Is Your Friend
Fluoride has gotten a bad wrap lately. However, fluoride can be very helpful in maintaining a healthy mouth.
Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps protect the enamel on your teeth. Enamel is the hard outer covering of each tooth. It protects your teeth from acid and other harmful substances. Ultimately, this prevents tooth decay.
Fluoride becomes harmful if consumed in high doses with consistent exposure. The small quantities found in dental care products are typically not going to be ingested or of a sufficient enough dosage to cause you harm.
We recommend that you use fluoride toothpaste and fluoride mouthwash. These will help maintain the strength of your enamel and protect your teeth more effectively. We also recommend drinking fluoridated water.
4. Watch What You Put In Your Mouth
This next tip might not seem so obvious when it comes to your oral health, but, like the previous tips, it is essential. The food and drinks you put in your mouth can greatly impact your health, oral and otherwise. Choose foods and drinks that will improve your health rather than hinder it.
Eat more nutrient-rich and unprocessed foods. Foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and lean proteins fit into this category and provide your body and teeth with essential vitamins and minerals. It is also recommended to eat foods high in fiber. If you’re going to snack, we recommend these mouth-healthy snacks: cheese, apples, raisins, sugarless gum, and carrots.
It is also recommended that you limit the amount of sugary and starchy foods you put in your mouth. This includes soda, alcohol, and other sugary drinks. The plaque in your mouth loves sugar and starch. Reducing your sugar and starch intake helps the fight against plaque.
One final recommendation about snacking; if you’re prone to late-night snacks, make sure that you brush your teeth after you snack rather than before. If you brush before bed and then enjoy a snack, leftover food particles have all night to wreak havoc in your mouth.
5. Set A Routine
Like many New Year’s resolutions, creating a habit is key. Set a daily routine for yourself in the morning and at night to ensure that you implement these tips. As you follow your set routine each day, it will turn into a habit. Soon, your morning or evening won’t feel complete without brushing and flossing.
Another habit we would recommend is to visit the dentist every six months for a routine check-up. Whether you feel it’s needed or not, this is a preventive measure to make sure that everything looks okay. It helps catch potential cavities or early signs of gum disease to prevent further damage later on in life.
If you have any questions about how you can improve your oral health in the new year, contact us at (208) 529-0120. If you live in the Idaho Falls area, we’d love to schedule a visit. We’re here to help you in keeping your New Year’s resolution for a healthier mouth and a healthier smile.