If you’re making New Year’s resolutions in 2016, you’re not alone. One study estimates that 45 percent of Americans set goals for themselves at the start of every year. This year, resolve to achieve one of these easy, yet effective, oral health goals.
Resolution #1: Floss!
Though everyone should floss at least once a day to help remove debris and plaque from teeth, only 49 percent of Americans say they do – and 10 percent say they never floss. If you’re part of the half that flosses less than the recommended amount, fix that in 2016. It’s as easy as unspooling 18 inches of floss and adding two minutes to your nightly bedtime routine. For our patients with braces, we have found that the Waterpik Waterflosser is a very easy way to get the job done. Flossing with braces is necessary but tedious. Using a Waterflosser instead can be fun and easy.
Resolution #2: Brush twice daily.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing teeth at least twice a day. Patients in braces need to brush for a minimum of three minutes each time. For cavity prevention, make sure you use the prescription strength fluoride toothpaste nightly. We are happy to renew your prescription, or for convenience this is now available in our office.
Resolution #3: Stop using your teeth as tools.
Your teeth are tools – ones meant for chewing and tearing food, not ripping plastic packages or popping bottle caps open. Using your teeth for tasks like this – or for gnawing on pencils, ice, popcorn kernels or other hard objects – can result in chipped or cracked teeth, possibly even requiring a root canal. And if you are a patient in braces, eeekkkkk. Those braces will pop right off! It can be tempting to tear with your teeth if you don’t have scissors within reach, but finding another creative way to open a bag of chips is a better bet for your oral health and orthodontic treatment.
Resolution #4: Swap your gum.
If you’re a regular gum chewer, swap your sugary pack for a sugar-free one. With flavor options ranging from delectable desserts to good old spearmint, there’s no reason not to switch to guilt-free gum. Bonus: Chewing sugar-free gum generates saliva, which helps rinse stray food particles and acid from teeth. Studies have shown that gum containing Xylitol as the main ingredient, may even help prevent tooth decay by inhibiting the bacterial in your mouth that cause cavities.
Resolution #5: Trade in your toothbrush every three months.
The new year is the perfect time to put that saying “Out with the old, in with the new” into practice. Worn bristles won’t clean your teeth as well, so if you’re not consistently swapping out your toothbrush or toothbrush head about every three months as recommended, take 60 seconds right now to go through your calendar and jot down a note to yourself to check your toothbrush every 90 days or so. Some people wear their bristles out sooner, so if yours look bent or frayed, they are no longer doing an effective job. Time for a new one!
This year, do yourself – and your teeth – a favor. Make one (or all) of these resolutions that are not only easy to keep, but also easy on your teeth.