At the Dentistry of Nashville, we love helping people overcome their oral health problems. But beyond that, we also want to help our patients avoid these problems altogether. That’s why we’ve come up with a list of New Year’s resolutions for those who want their smiles to shine brighter than ever before in 2017.
10 Oral Health Resolutions
Some may say, “I’ve tried creating New Year’s resolutions in the past, but they never seem to stick.” Don’t worry, you don’t need to commit to doing all of the below tips—at least not right away. In fact, you might be doing some of them already!
However, the more resolutions you do follow, the healthier your mouth will be. What’s more, if you can get these habits to stick, you’ll be on your way to securing oral health for years to come.
1. Brush Your Teeth Twice A Day For Two Minutes
Chances are that you brush your teeth in the morning and evening already. This is great, but let’s go further. How long do you spend brushing your teeth each time?
The American Dental Association (ADA) reports that people should brush their teeth for two minutes or more for proper oral care. However, they also share that Americans only spend an average of one minute and 52 seconds brushing their teeth—eight seconds short of the recommended time.
We want to encourage our patients to spend more time brushing their teeth every day. If necessary, use a stopwatch or phone timer to get used to two-minute brushing times.
Of course, it’s not just how long you brush, but how you brush as well. Don’t brush with aggressive, straight strokes that can damage tooth enamel and miss hard-to-reach areas. Instead, use gentle, circular motions that touch every part of your teeth for more effective brushing.
2. Don’t Forget To Brush Your Tongue Carefully
Did you know that the tongue actually holds the largest amount of bacteria in your mouth? This is a leading contributor to bad breath—but remembering to brush your tongue can keep this in check.
We recommend brushing your tongue every time you brush your teeth. You can do this with regular toothbrush bristles or the tongue cleaner found on the backs of many newer toothbrushes. Whatever you use, be sure to reach from the back of your tongue to the front and from side-to-side as well. Apply gentle pressure and rinse with water after you’re done.
Don’t be surprised if your breath smells fresher after making a habit of tongue-brushing. Your mouth will love you for it, and so will your loved ones!
3. Use Softer Toothbrushes
One 2014 research study found that hard toothbrushes can actually lead to enamel and gum erosion. This shows that it’s not just about how you brush, but what you brush with.
When you brush your teeth, you want to eliminate tooth decay, not accelerate it. Because of this, use softer toothbrushes for your everyday oral care.
Try not to brush too aggressively as well. It’s better to be gentle and thorough when brushing rather than aggressive and sloppy. This is the best way to preserve your teeth and gums for a lifetime.
4. Wait 30 Minutes To Brush After Acidic Foods
Does it really matter if you brush your teeth before or after you eat? For one thing, brushing after you eat can get rid of enamel-eating bacteria that starts forming after your meal. This is a great plus with one exception.
If you eat citrus fruits like oranges or drink acidic juices, your enamel can weaken temporarily. And if your enamel is weakened, brushing too soon can actually harm your teeth if you’re not careful. That’s why waiting at least 30 minutes before brushing is best.
5. Floss Daily To Supplement Tooth Brushing
Some people see tooth brushing as the ultimate oral care habit, and flossing as just an optional task. However, if you’re not flossing once a day, your oral health will suffer greatly.
Flossing benefits your teeth because it removes bacteria and food particles that your toothbrush can’t reach. It also provides healthy stimulation for both teeth and gums. Just be sure to floss close to the tooth with care to make sure your gums are merely stimulated and not damaged.
Does it matter whether you floss before or after brushing? It actually doesn’t matter as long as you do it!
6. Eat Less Sugary And Starchy Foods
Constantly eating foods with lots of sugar and starch can lead to rapid tooth decay. This is because bacteria use these ingredients to produce enamel-eating acids.
Candy, cookies, soda, and juices are among the biggest contributors to tooth decay. We’re not saying that you need to completely eliminate them from your diet. All the same, limiting your intake will help your oral health in the long run.
One final note: don’t forget to floss and brush carefully after eating sugary or starchy foods! It usually takes 24 hours for plaque to form in your mouth, and this process can be accelerated depending on the kind of foods and drinks you consume.
7. Avoid Too Much Alcohol And Coffee
There are a few reasons why too much alcohol can harm your teeth. Firstly, alcoholic beverages often contain heavy amounts of sugar. Moreover, alcohol can also make a person dehydrated. This leads to lack of saliva, which in turn leads to more enamel-damaging bacteria and tooth decay.
Beware the staining effects of alcoholic drinks as well. Red wine is infamous for this.
Speaking of teeth staining, both coffee and even tea can leave stains on the surface of your enamel. This is another reason to brush thoroughly, and rinsing your mouth out with water after drinking can also help. Whatever you do, limiting your consumption of both alcohol and coffee in 2017 can go a long way toward keeping your teeth white and your smile bright!
8. Drink Plenty Of Water Each Day
The American Dental Association says that “sipping water is also one of the best things you can do for your teeth.” When you drink enough water, bacteria get washed away, and saliva is produced at a healthy rate and volume. Of course, water won’t stain your teeth either.
If you’ve ever wondered how much water you should drink each day, here’s a good rule of thumb: take your weight in pounds and divide it by 2. The result is roughly the amount of water you should drink in ounces daily. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you should drink at least 80 ounces of water a day!
9. Leave Tobacco Use Behind
Many dental experts have discussed the negative effects of smoking and other kinds of tobacco use upon teeth. These include the following consequences:
- Stained teeth
- Tooth decay
- Bad breath
- A decreased sense of taste
- Greater risk of tooth loss
- Greater risk of gum disease
- Greater risk of oral cancer
Regarding the last point, the Mouth Cancer Foundation reports that 90% of all people with oral cancer use tobacco in some form.
At the Dentistry of Nashville, we encourage our patients to move away from tobacco use in 2017 for the sake of their oral and general health.
10. See A Good Dentist Regularly
We encourage our patients to heed the 2-2-2 Rule. This states that you should visit the dentist twice a year and brush your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes or more. This brings us full circle to our first resolution! Unfortunately, some people don’t regularly visit the dentist for cleanings and checkups. This makes it easier for cavities and other problems to spring up full-blown and unnoticed.
Unfortunately, some people don’t regularly visit the dentist for cleanings and checkups. This makes it easier for cavities and other problems to spring up full-blown and unnoticed.
However, what if you do notice a problem with your teeth in 2017? Don’t ignore it and risk the dental issue getting worse. If you contact us at the Dentistry of Nashville, we’ll be happy to see you for both regular checkups and dental emergencies.
Ring In The New Year With Better Oral Health
How many of the above tips do you already follow? Even today, we encourage you to incorporate new oral health habits into your daily routine for the new year. Whether it’s spending more time brushing your teeth twice a day, spending less time with sugary foods and drinks, or scheduling more annual checkups with your dentist, setting these resolutions for yourself can lead to a brighter smile and healthier mouth in 2017.
Of course, sometimes you can still run into oral care difficulties even when you do your best. Accidents happen, and dental check-up surprises can throw us for a loop. Just know that the Dentistry of Nashville is here to stand with you through the new year to make sure your teeth stay healthy no matter what comes your way.
To all our patients near and far—have a great 2017 ahead, and keep on smiling! We look forward to seeing you in our office soon!