The new year is a great time to make some new resolutions to better your mind and body. Typically people vow to get into shape, be healthier, save money, check something off of their bucket list, and other vague goals. But if you make having a healthy smile one of your resolutions, then you can check off at least three of the aforementioned four resolutions! Today we’d like to discuss our dental new year’s resolutions for our patients.
Oral hygiene is directly related to overall health, especially for people with heart disease and diabetes. Making your smile healthier will contribute to your overall health, which can also help you get into better shape. Not to mention all of the money you’ll be saving if you’re not spending it on fixing your teeth!
[Related: Is Flossing Really That Important?]
Here are a few resolutions for a healthier smile to try out this year.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing and flossing twice a day. Angle your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle toward your gum line and brush along teeth in a circular motion for two minutes twice a day.
When flossing (at least once a day), curve the floss in a C-shape along the crown of each individual tooth. Position floss at the top of each tooth as far as it will go until you meet resistance (be sure not to damage the gums but start far enough up to ensure complete cleaning) and using a see-saw motion bring the floss down along the crown, curving with the tooth.
Proper home care can prevent tooth decay, plaque and calculus build up, gum disease, bone loss, and infection. Remember, disease that starts in your mouth can affect the rest of your body, so as a dental new year’s resolutions: make sure you’re taking care of your teeth if you want to take care of your overall health.
[Related: What is Periodontal Maintenance?]
Other than brushing and flossing, this resolution is a great goal for your overall health and your oral health. Smoking not only causes discoloration of your teeth, but it increases your risk for oral, throat and lung cancer, tooth decay, gum recession and gum disease. Smoking and using tobacco products also decreases overall blood flow, resulting in slower healing for any injuries or infections. Smokers are also twice as likely to lose their teeth than non-smokers.
Here are a few added reasons why kicking the habit is good for you. Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars, etc can cause the following:
I think we all know that the vitamins and minerals in fruits and veggies are good for you overall. Poor nutrition affects your whole immune system which increases your risk for periodontal disease, among other oral diseases.
Eating plenty of nutritious food helps boost your immune system and decrease inflammation in your body. Also, eating fibrous fruits and veggies (think apples, celery, etc) help scrub your teeth free of plaque when you eat them.
[Related: Candy Causes Cavities]
Cutting back on the booze? Studies have shown that if you are a drinker you are six times more likely to have oral cancer than non-drinkers.
Alcohol also is a drying agent, as it reduces saliva and creates a more acidic environment in your mouth which can soften enamel. Add the softened enamel with the high sugar content that comes with alcohol and that leads to tooth decay, damage to enamel, gum deterioration and tooth loss.
By cutting back on alcohol you are taking steps to avoid cavities, getting root canals, tissue grafts and even possibly losing teeth!
Now for those of you looking to get in shape for the new year, we all know how getting stronger, leaner, and having more cardiovascular endurance can have an effect on your quality and longevity of life. But did you know that individuals who exercised moderately less than three times a week (over a 10 year period) had a 33% reduced risk of periodontitis than individuals who didn’t?
If you’re really working out vigorously at least three times a week (over a 10 year period) you can significantly reduce your chances of getting periodontitis. Just make sure that if you are starting an exercise routine that you are not drinking all the sugary sports drinks or energy drinks. The sugar content in the drinks, along with constant sipping over extended periods of time can create a great environment for bacteria.
The best way to keep your teeth and gums healthy (and your body) is just to drink water in order to stay hydrated while exercising.
[Related: Tooth Pain]
Discuss with your dentist what kind of maintenance program you should be on (every 3, 4, or 6 month cleanings). At minimum you should be seeing your dentist for cleanings and check-ups twice a year.
Stop any problems before they start, be preventative in your care. If you can catch a cavity when it’s small you can keep it from growing so big that you eventually need a root canal.
Keep your teeth cleaned to prevent both the accumulation of bacteria and growth of gum disease and to prevent oral cancer.
Keep your teeth clean and let your dentist keep an eye on your overall dental health in order to address any problems before they arise.
So here’s to a Happy New Year and a happy, healthy smile! Implement one or all of these dental new year’s resolutions and you’ll see a difference in the coming year. Contact Cascadia Dental Specialists today to set up an appointment and start the year off right!