The following New Year strategies will go a long way toward giving you a brighter, healthier smile in the coming year: Although you may have heard all of these before, it won’t hurt to review them again. And, there might be one or two reminders that will motivate you to be more consistent in making healthy choices and developing healthy habits.
This is number one for a reason. Using tobacco harms the mouth in a number of ways and puts you at great risk for many systemic diseases. Among your risks are tooth discoloration, cavities, gum recession, gum disease, and throat, lung and oral cancer. When you quit, all the organs of your body will thank you, as well as your friends and family.
Eating well is important for your dental health. Poor nutrition can affect the entire immune system, increasing susceptibility to many common oral disorders, including gum (periodontal) disease. Antioxidants and other nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts improve your body’s ability to fight bacteria and inflammation, helping to protect your teeth and gums. Choose raw veggies and fruits for between meal snacks, and crunch away!
Choosing pure water over sugary drinks will benefit your overall health, not just minimize carbohydrates on your teeth that enable damaging oral bacteria to flourish. In fact, you can minimize inflammation throughout your body by drinking pure water or drinks that are mostly water (for example, unsweetened herbal tea) throughout the day.
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, those who consume excessive alcohol are less likely to brush their teeth on a regular basis. Are you more than an occasional social drinker? Do you notice that your oral hygiene routine is less than thorough when you’ve been imbibing? Do you tend to overeat or choose unhealthy foods when you are drinking? Do you realize that health risks accumulate over a lifetime so the more you drink, the more you are at risk of liver or brain damage, heart disease, high blood pressure, some cancers, and accidental trauma? A smile is only beautiful if the person who wears it is healthy and confident. The New Year is the perfect time to take control of your alcohol consumption.
If you use a manual toothbrush, select one with soft bristles marked with the ADA (American Dental Association) Seal of Approval. Replace it every 30 days, when the bristles appear worn, or after an illness, whichever comes first. A brush that stays wet breeds bacteria so allow your brush to dry. Do not put it in a confined container but rather keep it upright in a cup.
Consider purchasing an electric toothbrush if you have been using a manual toothbrush. Two minutes of brushing with an electronic toothbrush on all tooth surfaces is highly effective in removing plaque and stimulating gum tissue.
Take the time to thoroughly clean your teeth. We recommend you spend a full two minutes brushing your teeth at least twice a day. Floss at least once a day to protect your teeth from decay and your gums from infection. Without flossing, your teeth’s most persistent enemy, plaque, will build up between the teeth and below the gum line. This is a sticky, colorless, invisible film of harmful bacteria that builds up on your teeth every day. If it is not removed it can harden in as few as three days and require our teeth cleaning tools
If you are away from home and unable to brush after eating, chew xylitol gum and drink water.
If you wear a nighttime mouth guard, brush and rinse it each morning with toothpaste, and allow it to dry on a clean towel before placing it in a closed container. If I have made the mouth guard for you, it is made of a hard acrylic that can be rinsed with alcohol based mouth rinse to kill bacteria.
Under most circumstances, we recommend twice yearly preventive exams and cleaning appointments. If we have recommended more frequent cleanings, checkups, or specific treatment, it’s because your oral health needs improvement to maintain a confident smile and minimize the dentistry you need over your lifetime.
If you experience any dental pain, worrisome tooth discoloration, or soft tissue soreness or redness, do not wait to call us for an examination. We are here to solve oral health problems and make you comfortable and healthy. By diagnosing problems early, we can put your mind at ease and minimize the treatment required. This also applies to your friends and family who are seeking a dentist. One of the highest compliments we can receive is your referral of a friend, co-worker, or relative.
Happy New Year from the Entire Team at Dr. Jamie J. Alexander, DDS!