It is the start of a New Year and many people start the process to improve their health by making New Year resolutions. Many New Year resolutions focus on losing weight, exercising, eating better, or to quit smoking. With good intentions, we hope that these new goals will turn into daily, healthy habits. Make sure a healthy smile is at the top of your New Year’s resolutions by improving your dental care habits!

What we chose on a regular basis turns into a habit. The first step to improving your dental care is deciding that that you want to have a healthy smile. Making better dental care choices and/or starting new habits may take time, effort, and may be difficult at first. The good news is that these choices become easier as they become regular habits. As you continue to make good choices, the choices that once were difficult to make become an automatic response and a positive habit. Sticking to your positive habits can help you achieve your New Year goal(s). The road to good dental care is a combination of good daily habits and choices.

Dental care habits that can help you have the best smile for a new year.

Have your dental care items ready. Having your dental care supplies at hand can help you maintain your daily, dental clean routine at home.

  • Toothpaste – Use a fluoride toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association (ADA).
  • Toothbrush – Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush with the ADA seal of approval. This is the safest choice. Depending on how hard you brush your teeth, a toothbrush that has medium or hard bristles may harm your tooth enamel and gums. Select a package with multiple toothbrushes. This will help replace the worn toothbrush in three months or less and save money. Both manual and powered toothbrushes are effective at removing plaque according to the ADA. It is a personal choice which type of toothbrush is best for you. People who have dexterity problems such as the elderly, people with disabilities, and children, or those who have dental appliances, like braces, may find a powered toothbrush easier to use.
  • Floss – Whether your prefer string floss or dental picks, make sure you have plenty.
  • Mouthwash – There is a variety of mouthwash products. Some freshen breath, while others provide anti-cavity ingredients such as fluoride. Ask your dentist which mouthwash is best for you. 

Make time for your oral hygiene routine. Taking your time to take care of your teeth and gums can help prevent infections and disease that can lead to loose teeth and tooth loss.

  • Brush two (2) times a day – Brushing your teeth twice a day helps to keep your gums and teeth healthy. It prevents plaque and tarter from building up. Make brushing your teeth before you go to bed one of your priority oral care habits. Saliva production decreases while you sleep, allowing plaque to harm the enamel of your teeth.
  • Brush for two (2) minutes – When you brush your teeth, you help remove food and plaque. Plaque that is not removed can harden into tartar, making it harder to keep your teeth clean. Brushing in small circles, helps clean your teeth better and helps to brush away bacteria and plaque from your gums.
  • Floss at least once a day – Cleaning between your teeth removes food particles and dental plaque buildup. Flossing daily can also decrease the risk of gingivitis and cavities between your teeth.
  • See your dentist two (2) times a year – Seeing your dentist twice a year allows him/her to check for early stages of gum disease or cavities. Sometimes these and other oral health concerns may not be seen or felt until they are in advanced stages. Dental problems can be easily treated in their early stages.  

Make better food and beverage choices for a healthy smile. Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods promotes healthy teeth and gums. Making healthier food choices can help improve your oral and your overall health. This new habit can promote a healthy smile and a healthier you.

  • Eat better. The best foods for your oral health are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products. Foods from these food groups help promote strong teeth and healthy gums.
  • Snack better. Limit snacks high in sugar. Bacteria uses sugar as a fuel to convert into an acid. This means that those foods will continue to harm your teeth long after you have finished eating them. Snack on foods such as yogurt, cheese, apples, celery and nuts (Colgate).
  • Make better beverage choices. Limit sugary beverages such as juice, soda and sweetened coffee. Drink water. It is refreshing, helps rinse food particles in your mouth, and does not contain sugar that promotes cavities. 

Be smoke free! Quit tobacco use for a healthy mouth. Kicking the nicotine habit can have huge health benefits on your oral and overall health.

  • Better oral health. Quitting tobacco use can decrease the risk of gum disease, oral health infections, tooth loss, and oral cancer.
  • Better appearance. Here is a list of rewards that you will notice from being tobacco free:
    • Your breath, hair and cloths will not smell like cigarettes
    • Your teeth will not be yellow
    • Quitting also helps stop the damaging effects of tobacco on how you look, including premature wrinkling of your skin (ACS).
  • Better quality of life. People who quit smoking get sick less often, heal faster, and have fewer colds and flu episodes. In addition, they have less bronchitis and pneumonia. Their mood is better, and they are less stressed (UMCVC).

New dental care habits can improve your oral health and well-being. The positive results from your new habits can motivate family members and friends to try healthier habits. Happy, healthy New Year!

More ways to help you reach your New Year goal(s) of better health habits.

Smokefree.gov. Learn about the different tools to help you quit and how to use them.

CalFresh-Healthy Living. Take small steps to improve you and your family’s nutrition choices. Learn about healthy eating habits, one goal at a time!

Smile Habits OC.  Keep your and your family’ smile healthy and happy all year!

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