A new year can mean a healthier you!
These ten resolutions are simple steps you can take to improve your teeth and gums this year – you may even improve your overall health while you’re at it.
1. Start fresh – Replace your toothbrush or power toothbrush head if it has been 3 months since you last started using a new one – or if you have recently been sick, or if the indicator on the brush tells you it’s time (even if it has been over 3 months and the indicator looks fine) OR if someone else decided to use your brush!
2. Brush for at least two minutes at least twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste.
When? A good time to brush is after eating breakfast and then again after you have finished eating and drinking for the day. If you can brush during the day, after meals is a great time. Use a stop-watch or timer if you need to. We have some here if you need one.
3. Keep your toothbrush far away from the toilet.
It’s always wise to flush the toilet with the lid closed as germs can spray way up into the air (at least that’s what we’ve been told).
4. Floss daily. Use about 18 inches of dental floss and floss in between every tooth. To see a video on good flossing form, please visit this YOU TUBE Video.
5. Reduce your soda, citrus, and carbonated beverage consumption.
If you are going to drink these beverages, it may be wise to drink them through a straw and limit the amount of time spent drinking. If you want a soda, have it in one sitting, instead of prolonged sipping. (See Dr. Ejaz Ali’s Beverage Do’s and Don’ts).
6. Schedule your dental cleaning and checkups for the year.
Calling early in the year will usually help you find a convenient date and time. Some people may require cleanings or specialized treatments more often, including pregnant women and those who have periodontal disease. Professional cleanings are important for your health – the hygienist is able to remove built up tartar and look for signs of infection, like gingivitis. Gingivitis is reversible but periodontal disease is NOT!
7. Do you have bleeding gums?
If you haven’t addressed those bleeding gums with your dentist, 2011 is a perfect time, especially if you have diabetes. One of the newest concerns is that those with increased blood sugar levels are having a harder time controlling their gum health. Please visit Joslin Diabetes Center’s information on dental health and diabetes to learn more.
8. Schedule an advanced oral cancer screening for your next dental visit if it has been a year or more since your last screening.
Not sure if you’ve been screened? Check with your dentist – advanced oral cancer screenings use additional technology that may aid in earlier detection. We’ve also learned a lot about the HPV and oral cancer connection in 2010 – that’s why we recommend this screening for young patients who may not have normal risk factors like tobacco and alcohol use.
9. Protect your dental investment by wearing your retainer or nightguard!
Save yourself from needing braces again by wearing the retainer your orthodontist made for you. Teeth will and do shift. If you own a nightguard, wearing it nightly will help protect your teeth from the damaging effects of grinding. Grinding and clenching the teeth during sleep can wear away your enamel, putting you at risk for decay and increased tooth sensitivity. Waking up with a headache and sore neck every morning could be because you are clenching your jaw – a nightguard is an added defense against this.
10. YOU DESERVE a healthy smile!
Oral health tends to be one area of health that people neglect or feel awkward about caring about. Maybe it’s a fear of the dentist that keeps you away, which we understand. There are many options, such as sedation dentistry, that can allow fearful patients get hours worth of work done with minimal discomfort. Discussing sedation options with your dentist might help relax you. Getting dental problems fixed and spending a few minutes a day brushing and flossing is not being selfish. You deserve to have the best oral health possible – and it’s absolutely within reach!
Wellesley Dental Group is a full service dentist office serving patients of all ages, starting as young as infancy.