The holiday season is never kind to your teeth and gums. Social gatherings and parties often include a lot of sugary treats and alcoholic beverages, which contribute to tooth decay. The hectic schedule of the season may mean that you barely have a minute to yourself, let alone time to schedule an appointment with a dentist or periodontist. As the new year approaches, it’s time to pay more attention to the health of your teeth and gums. Dental-focused new year’s resolutions are pretty easy to keep and will help you feel proud of your smile.
Know Your Toothpaste and Recommit to Flossing
You’re probably very familiar with instructions to brush twice a day and to floss at least once a day. But, once January 1 rolls around, it can be helpful to check in with your dental habits and make sure you’re actually brushing the right way and flossing regularly. Along with twice a day brushing, make sure you’re using a toothpaste that contains fluoride. While non-fluoride toothpastes will clean bits of food and other debris off of your teeth, they aren’t able to offer sufficient protection against tooth decay and cavities.
Fluoride is a mineral that makes your teeth stronger. It can also help reverse early cases of tooth decay by remineralizing the enamel on your teeth. Along with choosing a toothpaste that contains fluoride, you might want to look for a product that provides protection or helps with a specific problem, such as tooth sensitivity, gum disease, or stained teeth.
Along with checking in on your toothpaste, your new year’s resolution can include checking in on your technique. When you brush, are you getting all areas of your teeth, such as the front, backs and tops? Are you holding the brush at a 45-degree angle and not using too much pressure or force?
Make an Appointment With a Dentist
It’s recommended that you see a dentist twice a year for an exam and cleaning. If you have had gum disease, it’s also a good idea to schedule an appointment with a periodontist to make sure your gums remain healthy. It’s easy to fall behind when it comes to scheduling your appointments.
One way to make sure you commit to seeing a dentist and actually follow through on making the appointment is to give yourself a deadline. Say that you’ll schedule the appointment by January 15. Set a reminder on your calendar or phone and have it send you a reminder every day until you call up the dentist and make your appointment. Once you do see the dentist, make scheduling subsequent appointments easier by doing so before you leave the practice.
Improve Your Diet
Your diet does more than just affect the size of your waistline or the number you see on the scale. It also impacts the health of your teeth. If you’ve resolved to eat better in 2015, doing so can also mean stronger, cleaner teeth. For example, eating certain foods, such as cheese and sugar-free dairy products, can help strengthen your teeth, since they contain plenty of calcium.
Other foods that are beneficial for your teeth include fibrous vegetables and fruits, such as celery, carrots and apples. These foods help scrub bits of food and debris off of your teeth.
At the start of the new year, it can be helpful to keep a diary of all the foods you eat over the course of a week or two. The diary will let you see patterns in your eating habits and allow you to see where there is room for improvement. To make sticking to your resolution easier, make several small changes over the course of a few weeks or months, instead of completely overhauling your diet immediately.
Resolving to quit smoking is almost a cliche. But, it’s a good cliche and one worth pursuing in 2015. Smoking damages your teeth and gums in several ways. First, it makes it more likely for tartar and plaque to form on your gums and teeth. It also reduces your immune system’s function, putting you at a greater risk for infection. Smoking is one of the greatest risk factors for gum disease, too.
Using tobacco also affects the appearance of your teeth. If you want a whiter smile, one of the best things you can do is quit smoking.
Quitting is difficult, but it’s not impossible. One way to make sure you kick the habit and give it up for good is to get a lot of support. Tell your friends and family you’ve quit and ask for their help when it comes to resisting cravings. Talk to your doctor and dentist about your decision, too. Your doctor might recommend using a quit aid, such as the nicotine patch or gum, or using medication to help you quit. He or she can also point you in the direction of a support group, so you can talk to others who are going through the same thing.
No matter what your New Year’s resolutions are, Dr. John Paul Gallardo and Dr. William Lamas hope you have a healthy 2015. Whether you have a history of gum disease or not, scheduling an appointment with a periodontist can help you get your new year off to a healthy start. To schedule an appointment at Dr. Gallardo and Dr. Lamas’ Miami practice, call (305) 447-1447 today.