As December winds down and we all look ahead to the new year, this is the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate your oral health. That means taking a good look at the healthy habits you’ve instilled – and the missed opportunities to take hold of in 2021. Maybe you want to floss more often, get more consistent with brushing and rinsing, or finally, take care of that cavity that you’ve been putting off.
No matter what your oral health goals may be, taking small steps is key to creating healthy habits that stick over time. In the sections below, we’ll give you some great ways to make your oral health a focus in 2021!
Dental experts recommend brushing your teeth twice per day, for a full two minutes each session. (Does two minutes sound like a long time? If so, you’re not alone: most people only brush for 30–45 seconds.) Brushing for a full two minutes ensures that your toothbrush is clearing bacteria and food particles from each quadrant of your mouth, including your gum line, the back and front of your teeth, and each tooth’s biting surface.
Try setting a timer to make sure you are brushing for a full two minutes. You can set a simple countdown on your phone, or you could download an oral hygiene app to use a built-in timer. Many oral hygiene apps like Brushout also provide interactive guides to help users focus on specific sections of their mouth throughout the two-minute session.
Start small and choose one brushing session each day to commit to a full two minutes. If you are typically rushed in the morning before heading out the door, set a timer for your nightly brushing session instead. Over time, two minutes will become your normal routine – and it will be much easier to do so each and every time.
Food and beverage choices
Improving your dietary choices can go a long way toward improving your oral health: after all, the foods and beverages you consume have a direct impact on your teeth. For example, carbohydrates and sugar promote bad bacteria and tooth decay, acidity wears down enamel, and certain beverages can even create deep staining over time.
Aside from cutting back entirely on carbohydrates, sweets, and acidic foods, there are plenty of easy ways to protect your teeth from food- and beverage-related damage. Here are some of our favorites:
- Start sipping on water throughout the day to flush away food particles and bacteria
- Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after every meal (even better if you can brush, too!)
- Use a straw when drinking soda, coffee, or red wine
- Chew sugar-free gum after snacking to encourage increased saliva production, washing away bacteria and lingering food particles
Using tobacco products is one of the surest ways to cause long-lasting damage to your mouth. Nicotine causes deep-set staining and reduces saliva production, leaving your mouth susceptible to bacteria buildup and tooth decay. Tobacco use is also directly linked to oral cancer, stroke, coronary artery disease, gastric ulcers, and more.
Cutting back on tobacco use (or quitting entirely) is one of the best resolutions you could make for both your oral and overall health. If quitting cold turkey isn’t an option, start small: even a gradual decrease in tobacco use is worthwhile. Explore options for smoking cessation support groups, online tools, or enlist the help of family members and friends to help you stay on track.
As you begin planning your oral health goals in the new year, don’t forget the importance of scheduling regular check-ups with your dentist. Start 2021 off right by giving Valley Dental Care of Plainfield a call! We’ll help guide you in the right direction to ensure that you meet – and exceed – your goals for your healthiest mouth yet.