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Oral Health Buzz

A New Year's You: Dental Health Resolutions

Yolanda Eddis

Your dental health is an important part of your overall wellness, and the New Year is a great time to create resolutions for improving your health. Many people have dental health resolutions that range from improving their toothbrushing habits to completing delayed dental treatment. Understanding the benefits of your particular resolutions can be motivating and rewarding. Whatever your goals might be, it is important to take small steps to achieve them. Consistency is key with any resolution that you make.

Improving Toothbrushing and Flossing Habits

Perhaps you would like to improve your oral health. Daily toothbrushing and flossing is a sure and simple way to improve your oral health. For successful bacterial plaque removal, it is important to brush at least twice a day using an appropriately sized, soft-bristle, manual or electric toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste. When you brush your teeth, gently position the toothbrush bristles at a 45-degree angle toward the gumline and move the toothbrush across the teeth to effectively remove bacterial plaque. It is also important to floss at least once per day to remove bacterial plaque and food that has accumulated throughout the day. Your toothbrush should be replaced every 3 to 4 months, as well as after you have a cold or flu or if the bristles are frayed. Daily toothbrushing and flossing help to prevent gingivitis (gum disease), tooth decay and halitosis (bad breath). The daily use of antimicrobial and fluoride mouthrinses also helps to improve your oral health.

Healthier Food and Beverage Choices

An important part of achieving your dental health resolutions is making healthier food and beverage choices, especially for snacks. Frequent consumption of food and beverages containing carbohydrates and acids contributes to tooth decay, so it is important to brush after snacking. Using a Xylitol-containing gum or lozenge after a meal will also help to neutralize acids and reduce cavity-causing bacteria and plaque buildup.

Improving Your Smile

There are several smile-improving techniques that you can use while you brush and floss. In recent years, tooth whitening has acquired enormous popularity. It enhances the appearance of teeth by removing deep (intrinsic) or surface (extrinsic) stains. There are a number of tooth whitening products that can be purchased over-the-counter (OTC) for at-home use, administered by a dentist at the dental office or dispensed by a dentist for at-home use. Tooth whitening products are typically categorized into two major groups: Whitening toothpastes (dentifrices) and peroxide-containing bleaching agents. The following are different types of tooth whitening methods:

  •  Whitening toothpaste.
  •  Professionally applied bleaching products.
  •  Peroxide-containing bleaching agents.
  •  Dentist-dispensed and OTC home-use products.

Braces

Your New Year's resolution may be to finally correct an abnormal bite caused by an injury, thumb sucking, tooth crowding or crooked teeth. Correcting any of these problems with braces not only enhances the look of your smile but also, and most importantly, improves your oral health. There are several options for straightening your teeth. Which orthodontic method you choose depends upon your preference and the types of appliances offered by your dentist or orthodontist.

Restorative Dentistry

The New Year may be the right time to start or complete deferred restorative dental work, such as crowns, implants or fillings. Completing these types of procedures will help you to preserve the tooth structure and to maintain proper tooth alignment, which could ultimately improve your oral health.

Quit Using Tobacco Products

Quitting cigarette smoking and smokeless tobacco use is important for improving your oral and overall health. There is no better time than the present to make a resolution to stop tobacco use. Consider free online tools, smoking cessation groups, progress-tracking apps and support from friends and family to assist you with tobacco cessation.

Routine Dental Visits

A resolution to make routine visits to the dentist may help prevent oral disease or reveal an existing disease in its early stage. Dental visits should take place every 6 months to allow your dentist and dental hygienists to monitor the condition of your oral cavity and develop an appropriate treatment plan to meet your wants and needs. Your dentist can refer you to a specialist for a treatment that is beyond the scope of his practice.  

Learn more about dental health in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

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