Everyone has trouble keeping their New Year’s resolutions because they tend to be bad habits we want to break, which are challenging, or good ones we should adopt, but have never had the discipline to do so.
But some resolutions we can certainly do better on, especially if we tell others what the goals are, to encourage us or, if we falter, embarrass us for the good.
Planning Your Smile’s Health for the Year Ahead is Beneficial
Making some resolutions about our oral health should be near the top of our list for two reasons. First, few of us grew up understanding exactly how to brush or floss right and what to eat (or not) to keep our mouths healthy. Second, it is not until the dental troubles start mounting up that we realize that getting away with poor dental hygiene when we were younger eventually exacts a high price. And it can get much worse: only then do we understand that periodontal (gum) disease not only can cause our teeth to fall out, but seriously raises the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
These are our recommendations for your New Year’s priorities, which you should start on ASAP:
- Make sure you brush both sides of your teeth for a full two minutes, ideally starting after breakfast (when you can even scrape the periodontal bacteria off your tongue that accumulates overnight). The second time should be after your last snack at night. If you’ve never been shown exactly how to do this, have your dental hygienist demonstrate (and be sure to have her provide a professional cleaning twice a year, since she has tools and techniques that can always do a better job than any patient is able to, especially for hard-to-reach places). You may need to have this done more frequently or have her inject an antibacterial solution to stop infections.
- Flossing is not easy to do correctly: be sure you scrape both sides between each tooth from bottom to top and then move the string when you do this between the next set of teeth. Don’t rush it and don’t snack afterwards. If brushing and flossing thoroughly do not result in improved oral health, you should ask your hygienist for recommendations about a brush, toothpaste, mouthwash, or adding a small-bristled manual pick and Waterpik to your routine.
- Have Dr. Cluff give you a full dental examination twice a year, including a digital x-ray if she suspects you may have cavities or a jawbone infection that can only be seen this way. She can also note any signs of everything from oral cancer to damage from grinding your teeth when you sleep.
- Commit to eating a diet that is better for your oral and overall health.
Reduce the amount of white sugar, fructose, and refined foods (white bread, pasta, and rice, for example) and replace them with healthier sweeteners (like Xylitol, stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol) and whole grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, peas, fruits, proteins, and healthy fats. With all the new alternatives to junk food that are available, you can still have plenty of delicious fun eating.
If you make progress on these commitments, you’ll definitely have a happier New Year!