The start of a new year is the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate your health, habits, and goals. New Year’s resolutions come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe you want to set a goal to read more often, sign up for a gym membership, quit smoking, or make moves in your career.
What about your oral health? Have you been brushing, flossing, and rinsing regularly over the past year? Now is the perfect time to take a look at your oral hygiene habits and commit to making 2021 your best year yet for oral hygiene. We’ll give you some expert tips on how to improve your oral health in small, manageable ways to ensure that your new habits stick.
Focus on brushing
You should be brushing your teeth at least twice a day. In fact, dental experts recommend that each brushing session lasts for two minutes. If you’re like most dental patients, you’re only brushing for 30-45 seconds at a time. That’s a lot of brushing time to miss out on! If you aren’t brushing for two minutes, you aren’t getting the full benefits of brushing. That’s because brushing for a full two minutes ensures that you are reaching your gum line, the front and back sides of your teeth, and the all-important biting surface for each tooth.
Start using a two-minute timer each time you brush. You can even download an oral hygiene app, as many have built-in timers and interactive brushing charts. Commit to brushing for a full two minutes for at least one brushing session each day. Your new oral hygiene habit will soon become a part of your regular routine before you know it!
Change your diet
Did you know that the foods and beverages you consume have a direct impact on your oral health? That’s because everything you eat and drink passes through your mouth, coming into contact with your gums and your teeth. As a result, keeping a close eye on your diet is a worthwhile step in improving your oral health.
We all know that sugar and carbohydrates can wreak havoc on your mouth and make it easier for bad bacteria to multiply. But many dental patients don’t realize that acidic foods and beverages (such as fruit juice or citrus) weaken your enamel and create the perfect environment for decay to set in. Some foods and beverages also put your teeth at risk of staining: if you’ve noticed your teeth getting a little less white, wine or coffee could be to blame.
The good news is that you can minimize the harmful effects of foods and beverages without making a huge diet overhaul. Try incorporating these easy tricks for better oral hygiene:
- Sip water as often as possible to flush out bad bacteria and lingering food particles
- Use a mouthwash after eating
- Drink soda, coffee, or wine with a straw
- Chew sugar-free gum to boost saliva production after eating
It’s no surprise that tobacco products are harmful to your oral health. Prolonged nicotine intake causes yellow stains on your teeth. Nicotine also has a secondary harmful effect of decreasing saliva production. We depend on saliva to deliver essential nutrients, such as enamel-building minerals, as well as to wash away harmful bacteria. Studies also show that tobacco products have a direct correlation to oral cancer, stroke, gastric ulcers, and coronary artery disease.
If you use tobacco products regularly, make this your year to cut back (or even quit altogether)! There are plenty of smoking cessation products available, as well as online support groups or in-person guidance from a physician. Trust us: your oral health will thank you.
Perhaps the most important step you can take to improve your oral health in the new year is to schedule an appointment with Steger Smiles. Reach out by phone, email, or by filling out our easy online form to get started! We look forward to helping you ensure that 2021 is your healthiest year yet.