We hope your 2017 is off to a great start. If you are like millions of Americans, you've probably started the new year with some resolutions like losing weight, eating better, quitting smoking, or maybe being better with money. After about the first month, research shows that only 58% of people are still keeping their self-promises. If that promise was better oral health, the results of giving up could be catastrophic over time.
Two of the resolutions that we listed actually play a part in better oral health (eating better and quitting smoking). Technically three if you consider that its wiser financially to protect your teeth vs repair or replace them. We came up with a list of 7 changes you can make this year to greatly improve your oral health. You don't have to tackle them all at once, but consider using a planner or electronic calendar to track your progress and add more goals to your lifestyle.
1) Brush Your Teeth (x2)
The ADA recommends brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
2) Floss DailyThe ADA also recommends cleaning plaque from between your teeth once a day with dental floss or other interproximal dental cleaner.
3) See Your Dentist
Some people need to visit the dentist once or twice a year; others may need more visits. Your dentist can determine the best plan at your initial visit. Finding a dentist you trust and setting up an initial appointment are the first steps.
4) Cut Down on Sugar
Studies show a direct link to the amount of sugar a person consumes and the amount of tooth decay that results. Cutting back on sugar is not only good for weight loss, but it can also decrease your risk of tooth decay. Look for snacks that are low in sugar - fruits and vegetables are always a great choice. Switching out water or sugar-free seltzer water for soda is also a smart move.
5) Drink Fluoridated Water
Studies show that fluoride in community water systems prevents at least 25 percent of tooth decay in children and adults. Some bottled waters also contain fluoride, but you have to check the label. Drinking more water is also linked to reduced calorie intake and a lower risk of weight gain. It's a win/win!
6) Chew Sugarless Gum
Chewing sugarless gum with the ADA seal has been shown to increase the flow of saliva, thereby reducing plaque acid. This helps to reduce tooth decay.
7) Eliminate Smoking and Tobacco
The health impacts of smoking and tobacco use include stained teeth, discolored tongue, dulled sense of taste and smell, slow healing after a tooth extraction or other surgery, difficulties in correcting cosmetic dental problems, gum disease, and oral cancer. This may be one of the hardest resolutions for many people, but quitting tobacco will have impact on your complete health.
Any of these improvements can be made at any time and can be the start of a lifetime of better health. For example, if you miss a day of flossing, don't give up - start again. Have a soda at the movies? Brush when you get home and continue to look for ways to cut sugar next time. Good luck and happy new year!