With another year set to start soon, it is time to think about your New Year’s resolutions. As you do so, don’t forget to include your oral health and dental hygiene. This is the perfect opportunity to improve your at-home oral hygiene routine to keep your mouth healthy.
Depending on your current dental habits, the following could be some great resolutions to improve your oral health in the new year. If you need some extra help implementing some of the resolutions, Dr. Dhiraj Sharma is happy to give you more specific tips.
1. Get Dental Cleanings at Least Every Six Months
If you live a busy life or are on a tight budget without great dental insurance, you may have gotten into the habit of skipping dental cleaning procedures. But there are plenty of good reasons to make sure that you have these cleanings done regularly. Those reasons include:
- The dental hygienist has specialized tools and techniques that can remove plaque and tartar you can’t remove at home
- Your dentist will look at your mouth, potentially spotting any issues that require attention.
- Prevent serious dental problems in the future, which can be painful, time-consuming, and expensive.
- Your insurance likely covers two cleanings a year.
The typical recommendation is to have dental cleanings done every six months. However, some people may need more frequent cleanings. Make it your resolution to follow the professional oral cleaning schedule that Dr. Sharma recommends.
Improve Your Brushing and Flossing Habits
It should come as no surprise that one of the simplest and most effective oral-hygiene-related New Year’s resolutions is to make sure you follow your dentist’s recommendations for brushing and flossing.
Start by Meeting the Minimums
Depending on your current brushing and flossing habits, your resolution may vary. If you aren’t already brushing at least twice a day and flossing once a day, start with a resolution to do so.
Improve Your Technique
You can also resolve to make sure you use the ideal toothbrush and follow proper brushing techniques. You want to use a high-quality toothbrush with gentle yet stiff bristles and a toothpaste with fluoride. As you brush, make sure the bristles are at a 45-degree angle against your gumline.
Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly
Another aspect of this resolution can be making sure that you replace your toothbrush regularly. Ideally, you should replace them every three or four months. By your toothbrush’s fourth month, its bristles are likely worn and therefore less effective. Your toothbrush has also probably accumulated bacteria that put your oral health at risk.
Start Using Mouthwash
You can also supplement your brushing and flossing in 2022 by using mouthwash as well. Whenever possible, opt for a mouthwash with fluoride.
Get a Tongue Scraper
You may also want to consider getting a tongue scraper. This is the most effective method of getting bacteria off of your tongue. That keeps your mouth healthier overall and reduces the risk of bacteria causing cavities and gum disease.
3. Stop Smoking
If you smoke, you likely already know that it is bad for your overall health, especially your lungs. You may not realize how bad it is for your mouth as well. At the very least, it is likely to stain your teeth. The more serious concern, however, is the increased risk of gum disease that smokers have.
While quitting tobacco is easier said than done, it is well worth the effort. As a bonus, you will save money in addition to improving your oral health.
4. Take Care with Other Teeth-Staining Habits
As mentioned, tobacco stains your teeth, but it is not the only substance that does so. Coffee, wine, and tea can all cause staining. Depending on your goals for your mouth, you may want to make a resolution to change your habits when consuming these beverages.
This doesn’t mean you have to completely cut these drinks from your diet. Consider using a straw when feasible, as this prevents the liquids from coming into contact with your teeth. Or just make sure to brush your teeth right after enjoying your beverage. At the very least, rinse your mouth after enjoying them.
5. Watch Your Sugar Consumption
In addition to changing your habits with stain-causing beverages, your teeth will thank you if you reduce your sugar consumption. Remember that the bacteria responsible for plaque and tooth decay thrive on sugar, so consuming more sugar encourages cavities and tooth decay.
To keep your teeth as healthy as possible, you’ll want to reduce your sugar consumption. As a bonus, this will also be good for your overall health.
6. Drink More Water
Drinking more water is a common New Year’s resolution because of the way that it helps your overall health. You may not realize it, but this extends to your dental health as well. That’s because drinking more water improves your saliva production. Saliva helps clear away bacteria after your meals, reducing that bacteria’s ability to cause gum disease and tooth decay.
7. Correct Habits that Can Physically Damage Your Teeth
You can also be more mindful of habits that are potentially damaging to your teeth. These habits include biting your nails or using your teeth to open bottles. Chewing on ice can also be harmful.
Even if you can’t see the damage to your teeth from these activities, it is likely there. All of the above activities can wear down the enamel on your teeth. That, in turn, can lead to discoloration, pain, and other issues. Try to stop these habits to prevent unnecessary wear and tear on your teeth.
While you are at it, make sure to always wear a mouthguard when playing sports.
8. Do the Dental Treatment You’ve Been Putting Off
A final but crucial New Year’s resolution is to take care of whatever dental treatment you have been putting off. This can include aesthetic procedures as well as treatments.
Maybe you’ve been delaying getting a root canal because you are afraid of the pain. Unfortunately, putting off such important treatments only worsens your dental health and may cause further complications. Make 2022 the year to take care of those treatments you haven’t gotten around to yet.
As a bonus, your insurance probably resets as the new year starts. Take advantage of the fact that you are nowhere near your coverage cap so the treatments should be mostly covered.
With the above resolutions and some help from Dr. Sharma, 2022 could be the best year yet for your teeth and oral health. You can just choose one or two of the above resolutions or combine several to start the year off right and show your future self that you are capable of following good dental habits. To ensure your teeth receive the best care, make sure to schedule your regular cleanings and checkups with the best dentist in Chicago!