ORAL HEALTH: 7 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Teeth

So we’re into a new year. It is a traditional time to make resolutions for anything from healthier lifestyles including weight loss and regular exercise to goals of personal achievement and fulfillment. 

And when you actually accomplish all that you set out to do this year (and I am rooting for you to do so), you can share with the world a huge smile filled with pride and self-gratification.

To help you maximize this glorious moment of self-actualized bliss, I am going to share with you some tips to ensure the magnificence and health of your grin. Most of these are a repetition of what you already know, but then again, aren’t most New Year’s resolutions? (And yes for the umpteenth time, I need to eat less and exercise more.)

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1. Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
After every meal is ideal, but let’s get real. (How many of you have a toothbrush at work?) Interestingly, I find that my Invisalign patients have wonderful oral hygiene because they do brush after every meal in order to put their aligners back in place. For you die-hards who only brush once a day, please make sure you brush at bedtime.

2. Floss daily.
Again my Invisalign patients are flossing champions. Many people find flossing to be too time consuming. I say nonsense. It takes about 60 seconds to floss one’s teeth. If motivation is a problem, eat corn on the cob on a regular basis. (I’ve rarely seen someone eat corn on the cob that doesn’t crave a length of floss or a toothpick.) If you don’t like the corn suggestion and still can’t find the motivation to floss more regularly, just floss the teeth you want to keep. (I suggest you include your front teeth….you need them to smile.)

3. Cut down on the frequency that you consume sugar, refined carbohydrates, and candy.
Research has shown that it’s the frequency “sugar attacks” more than the quantity ingested that has greater impact on tooth decay and gum disease. It’s better to consume a chocolate bar in one sitting than to nibble at it all day. If you have something sweet and can’t brush afterwards, swish water in your mouth to displace the sticky film.

4. Avoid or minimize the amount of sports drinks, mineral water, soda or other acidic beverages.
Many brands of these drinks are quite acidic and can actually demineralize (dissolve) tooth enamel. And do not brush your teeth for at least 30 minutes after having said drinks lest you abrade away the “softened” tooth structure.

5. Visit your dentist at least twice a year (and probably more frequently if you are prone to cavities, gum problems or are having orthodontic care.)
Preventing tooth decay and periodontal disease is easier and far more cost effective than treating it. And remember there is a strong correlation between periodontal (gum) inflammation and heart disease and strokes. We also perform an annual oral cancer exam for our patients. Three of the biggest contributing factors for oral cancer are smoking, alcohol consumption and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV-the same virus implicated in cervical cancer.)

6. Change your toothbrush every three months.
It only stands to reason that the implement you use to remove bacterial plaque from your teeth must be changed regularly. If you catch a cold or the flu, you should also change your brush.

7. Exercise, exercise, exercise.
Regular aerobic exercise for 30 minutes, 3-4 times per week is great for cardio-vascular health and improves general circulation in the body including your gums and bone. Aerobic exercise actually boosts the immune system.