Each New Year brings with it a new beginning, when millions set New Year’s resolutions that guide them to better, healthier lives in the coming year. When reassessing your lifestyle to determine your New Year’s resolutions for 2014, having specific, realistic steps to reach your goal will keep you motivated to achieve them.
Here, five easy steps to help you maintain your New Year’s resolution of being healthy by focusing on your oral health, an important factor in your overall health.
1. Check your toothbrush. Your typical nylon bristle toothbrush has a maximum life of four months, so set a reminder for yourself to switch out your old brush for a new one. Another indicator that’ll help you determine whether it’s time for a new toothbrush is to look at the bristles. If the bristles are frayed, toothbrushes are not effective in removing plaque. When selecting a toothbrush, remember one of the main goals of brushing your teeth: removing plaque buildup.
“Toothbrushes must be gentle on enamel and gums,” says Jack Gruber, D.D.S., the founder of PeriClean, an alternative to the traditional toothbrush that has been shown to encourage gum re-growth on some of his patients. “Since plaque is soft, the bristles [on your toothbrush] should be soft and preferably short. Short bristles make it easier to keep germs from accumulating while long bristles tend to act as springs that want to straighten out, thereby putting more pressure than necessary to remove the soft plaque.”
Before buying your next toothbrush, review your options, from traditional toothbrushes or electric toothbrushes to PeriClean, a rubber toothbrush that lasts six months and encourages gum re-growth.
2. Reconsider your toothpaste. Though it may seem counterintuitive, extremely abrasive toothpaste is not necessarily the best at removing plaque. In fact, contrary to common knowledge, plaque is as soft as yogurt. Review this list of various toothpastes and their Relative Dentin Abrasivity: An RDA around 100 is best. An RDA lower than 100 may not clean teeth well enough while a higher RDA will be too harsh on thin tooth enamel and your gums—the skin of your teeth.
3. Time yourself. Rather than reciting the alphabet or singing “Happy Birthday” to time how long you brush your teeth, try this more accurate method: brush a section of three teeth while counting to 10. Then move onto the next group of three teeth. This will ensure each tooth gets the about same amount of attention and the session will last at least two minutes.
4. Floss, floss, floss. Did you know that 90 percent of dental problems stem from the accumulation of food and bacteria between teeth that can’t be reached through just brushing? Flossing regularly every day will ensure that bacteria will not build up between your teeth and will therefore not have the chance to attack the gums to cause periodontal disease.
5. Schedule two appointments now. Good dental habits will make visits to the dentist easier. Seeing the dentist every six months for a cleaning and check-up is necessary to remove any hard tartar buildup and to catch any dental issues early on. Only a dental professional should be removing hard tartar from your teeth. Trying to scrape off hard tartar at home can become costly as you may be scraping away irreplaceable enamel as well. As with any medical issue, detecting and treating a dental issue sooner than later will help result in a better outcome while also keeping the cost of treatment down.
Simply keeping these five steps in mind is an easy way to maintain part of your overall health. After all, your oral health is linked to heart disease, diabetes and other health concerns.
Cheers to staying happy and healthy in 2014!