8 Dental Health-y New Year’s Resolutions
As the holiday season closes for another season, attention turns to the year ahead and the resolutions that are going to help to make it a great one. All too often these resolutions are grandiose to the point that they can be difficult to achieve, falling by the wayside until the next year’s resolutions reignite the spark. But your New Year’s resolution doesn’t need to be anything over-the-top. Instead, why not resolve to improve your life by improving your oral health?
Here are eight New Year’s resolutions that can positively impact your dental health:
1. Visit Your Dentist
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you visit your dentist twice a year for a routine checkup to help maintain optimal oral health and identify any potential dental concerns before they have a chance to develop into something more serious. But how many people actually adhere to this recommendation?
In a recent online survey, Consumer Guide to Dentistry asked its visitors how frequently they visited the dentist. Only 35 percent said they adhered to the twice-yearly recommendation, with the majority (37 percent) stating that they only visit the dentist “as needed.” (An additional 17 percent admittedly to “rarely” visiting the dentist.)
If you fall into the category of people who are not visiting the dentist regularly, resolve to change that early in 2017 by scheduling an appointment with your dentist and help set the tone for a dental health-y year.
2. Ditch the Soda
Cutting soda out of your diet is one of the best things you could do for your dental health. Sodas are packed with sugars and acids that can eat away at your teeth’s protective enamel layer, opening you up to all sorts of problems such as decay and tooth loss. You might think that opting for a diet soda or sugar-free option is tooth-healthy, but the reality is that they are just as acidic and can still cause significant harm.
In 2017, ditch the soda and switch it out for healthier alternatives like water.
3. Get a New Toothbrush
When was the last time you got a new toothbrush? It’s recommended that you replace your toothbrush every three to four months. One of the reasons is that the bristles can wear, making the toothbrush less effective. But a lesser-known reason for replacing your toothbrush is all about cleanliness. Toothbrushes are susceptible to bacteria just like the teeth, meaning that if you don’t take care of it adequately and keep it clean between use, you could be introducing bacteria into your mouth every time you brush.
Toothbrushes are relatively cheap, so try and get into the habit this year of rotating them every couple of months. If you use an electric toothbrush, look online to find bulk orders for replacement heads.
4. Quit Smoking
Smoking has been linked with a number of health issues, making “quit smoking” one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. When it comes to dental health, quitting smoking can be a game changer. Smokers face increased risk of everything from chronic bad breath and tooth discoloration, to loss of jawbone density (which can inhibit certain procedures like dental implants), gum disease and tooth loss. Smokers also face an increased risk of developing oral cancer.
Speak with your dentist or general health practitioner about your options when it comes to quitting smoking, and the many positive effects it can have on your life.
5. Get an Oral Cancer Screening
According to the ADA, some 42,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral and throat cancer each year. Considering that the 5-year survival rate is only 64 percent, prevention is absolutely essential. The best way to prevent oral cancer is through routine screenings performed by your dentist. The quick and simple test can help you identify any warning oral cancer warning signs, giving you the best chance to avoid the deadly disease altogether, or provide you with the most treatment flexibility if caught in the early stages.
If you are a smoker, chew tobacco, have a family history of oral cancer or have any other risk factors putting you at greater risk, you owe it to yourself and the ones that love you to get screened.
6. Right Your Bite
It’s never too late to fix a misaligned bite. Most people associate orthodontics with children and teens looking to straighten their teeth. But the reality is there are plenty of adults that opt for braces and other orthodontic solutions to correct an improper bite (malocclusion). In fact, nearly 30 percent of all orthodontic patients in the U.S. are adults.
Beyond the cosmetic issues that can be associated with an improper bite, there also are dental health implications. A misaligned bite can lead to temporomandibular joint disorder, interfere with eating and speaking, and lead to abnormal tooth wear.
If you’re concerned about having a mouth full of metal and wire braces as an adult, there are alternative orthodontic solutions. Invisible braces can be placed on the lingual surface (inside) of the teeth, and removable clear aligners like Invisalign and ClearCorrect offer more flexibility and aesthetics while helping correct bite problems.
It’s never too late to right your bite, so make 2017 the year that you consult with an orthodontist about your options.
7. Chew on This
Did you know that chewing on a piece of sugar-free gum after meals can have a dental health benefit? Chewing gum helps to stimulate the flow of saliva in the mouth, which helps to naturally wash away the acids that spawn from bacteria in the mouth. The ADA has referenced studies showing that chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after meals can actually help prevent tooth decay.
So whether you’re a gum lover or not, consider keeping a pack of ADA-approved sugar-free gum on hand for after meals this year so you can add an extra layer of dental health defense.
Your smile is one of the most identifiable things about you. But many people are afraid to smile out of shame of their teeth. Regardless of your cosmetic concern, rest assured there’s a dental solution that can put a smile on your face.
Teeth whitening is a simple and affordable solution for discoloration that can revitalize a dull smile.
Dental implants and bridges can fill the gaps left by missing teeth to give you that complete, wide smile.
Dental veneers can literally transform your smile, fixing spacing issues, alignment problems, deep intrinsic discoloration and more.
It’s a brand new year, and improved dental health can be something to smile about. Speak with a cosmetic dentist to discuss your aesthetic concerns and develop a custom treatment plan.