We make lots of New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of the year, many of which fall by the wayside a short time later. One important resolution we should make but don’t often do is to improve our oral health — not just for a few weeks, but year-round.
At Riverdale Dental Arts, located in Riverdale, the Bronx, New York, Dr. Sheldon Kupferman and his staff want to impress upon their patients the importance of keeping their teeth and gums healthy. And what better time to make the commitment than the beginning of the new year? Here are nine resolutions you can make to improve and preserve your oral health.
9 resolutions to keep your teeth and gums healthy
Here are nine great ways to maintain good oral health.
1. Brush at least twice a day
Use a soft-bristled brush angled at 45 degrees to your gum line; use small, circular motions on the front, back, and top of every tooth. Spend at least half a minute on each quadrant.
Hard-bristled brushes and brushing too hard can damage your tooth enamel and gums, leading to tooth sensitivity and gum erosion. If the bristles are splayed, you’re brushing too hard.
2. Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months
Brushes wear out after doing heavy-duty work every day. If the bristle ends are frayed, or if the bristles themselves are splayed out, you need a new toothbrush. In addition, store your brush so it can air dry; if it remains moist, it’ll gather bacteria faster, and that can lead to an infected mouth.
3. Floss at least once a day
Flossing removes plaque and bacteria between the teeth, where a toothbrush can’t reach. It also removes food particles caught in hard-to-reach places that can cause decay or bad breath, or both. Both the CDC and the ADA recommend flossing a minimum of once a day in addition to brushing.
Make sure you floss correctly. Pushing the floss straight down between your teeth can cut into the gums and cause pain and inflammation. It also doesn’t remove the plaque. Instead, pull off a piece of floss 18-24” long, wind it around your middle fingers, and hug the sides of the teeth in a “C” shape when you go up and down. Use a clean part of the floss on every tooth.
4. Use fluoride
Manufacturers add fluoride to toothpaste and mouthwash to help remineralize your teeth, but not every dental product has it. Using a non-fluoride product could be harmful to your dental health.
A recent review found that even those who brushed and flossed regularly weren’t protected against cavities if they didn’t use fluoride. Always look for products that contain the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval; the ADA only approves a product if it contains fluoride.
5. Use an antiseptic mouth rinse
Finishing off your brushing and flossing routine with an antiseptic rinse removes any last, lingering bits of food and bacteria in your mouth, and also helps your breath smell clean.
6. Avoid sugary drinks and foods
Studies continue to report on the significance sugar has in creating dental caries. A soda, or even most fruit juices, contain a lot of sugar that bathes your entire mouth when you drink, leading to a bacterial feeding frenzy. And watch out for processed foods; many contain added sugar.
7. Avoid starchy foods
Starchy foods such as bread, pasta, crackers, and chips also lead to tooth decay. Because these foods tend to linger in the mouth, they’re able to break down into simple sugars that acid-producing bacteria use for food. The ADA recommends eating a lot of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, as well as dairy products that don’t have added sugar.
8. Don’t use your teeth as tools
If you need to rip open a package, that’s what scissors and box cutters are for. Don’t use your teeth! If you do, you run the risk of chipping or cracking the enamel, which, if not treated, can lead to serious decay or damage to the soft, internal structure.
9. Keep routine professional dental checkups
Routine dental visits give the hygienist a chance to deep-clean your teeth and remove any plaque or hardened tartar you haven’t been able to clean at home. In addition, these visits allow the dentist to make a visual inspection for cavities, as well as gum disease, mouth cancer, and other oral health problems. Caught early, they can be treated more easily.
Resolve to make this coming year a healthy one for your teeth and gums. To start, schedule a checkup with Riverdale Dental Arts to make sure you don’t already have any problems. Give our office a call at 845-479-6927, or book your appointment online today.