With the New Year fast approaching, it’s time to once again consider what our resolutions will be for 2017. One of the more popular, yet generic resolutions is simply to “get healthier.” For those looking to set more specific goals, improving your oral health should be a top priority. Oral health is profoundly important, and goes far beyond simply having white teeth or a pretty smile. Did you know periodontal (gum) disease can either be an indicator or effect of other serious, systemic health problems?
1. Choose the right foods. We’ve all heard that we need to avoid sugary foods so we won’t get cavities. While this is true, there are certain foods you should be eating that can actually help your mouth. Next time you’re in the kitchen, reach for crunchy foods like celery, carrots and apples — not only are they healthy, but they also increase saliva production. More saliva means less bacteria-producing acid in your mouth that may lead to cavities and erode your enamel. Calcium-rich dairy products (think: milk, yogurt and cheese) are also great options to help strengthen your teeth.
2. Change your toothbrush. Chances are, you haven’t changed your toothbrush in months or maybe even a year. If your toothbrush is worn out, it definitely will not clean your teeth as effectively as it once did, and may even be leaving behind plaque and food debris. Throw your old one out, and aim to replace it every two or three months.
3. Pick up that floss! There seems to be a never-ending debate about whether or not flossing is a necessity. The answer is actually quite simple – it’s YES, you need to floss! Flossing gets rid of food trapped between your teeth, helps removes bacteria and plaque and freshens breath. It’s a win-win-win!
4. Go easy on the brushing. Listen carefully, it’s not that you should brush less — you should be brushing at least twice a day for two minutes. That said, many people brush their teeth way too hard. Vigorous brushing can wear down your enamel, and lead to increased tooth sensitivity or damage your gums. So, next time you brush, pretend you’re brushing the surface of a tomato, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how much force should be applied to your teeth.
5. Don’t neglect the tongue. This may not be the most pleasant news you’ve ever heard, but bacteria doesn’t just live between your teeth — it also covers your tongue. This bacteria causes bad breath, and can move to your teeth and gums and create other problems. You don’t necessarily need to go out and buy a special tongue scraper, just remember – when brushing your teeth, be sure to give your tongue some love as well.
6. Consider cosmetic choices. Did you know that crooked teeth that rub against each other wear down more easily, and are more likely to build up plaque that can lead to gum disease?
If you don’t want metal braces, there are several great and increasingly affordable options for invisible braces. Veneers and implants should be considered if you have more serious dental concerns, but are an investment and must be done properly. Be sure to consult with a trained dental surgeon who specializes in cosmetic dentistry prior to making any decisions.
7. Make and keep your dental appointments. Visiting your dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup is crucial. Regular cleanings help prevent cavities and gum disease, improve your smile and boost your overall health. Most importantly, you’ll be able to address your concerns with a trained professional (not Google), and ensure there are not any serious issues going on that need further treatment.
New Year’s resolutions can be cliché, but often serve as a great motivator to help people make positive changes in their lives. In 2017, up your oral health game with these seven tips and you’ll reap the benefits for years to come!
Read more from the Dec Issue