Whether New Year's is imminent, or you're just looking to reinvent yourself, this is a perfect time to evaluate your dental health. By implementing this easy-to-do oral detox plan, you and your family can kick-start a routine that ensures bright smiles and healthy teeth for years to come.
Take a Dental Product Inventory
Don't wait until you run out: Stock up on oral-care products you and your family will use for the rest of the year. Keep plenty of fluoride toothpastes on hand and make sure each family member has the toothpaste that suits his or her needs. For example, fluoride pastes are formulated for strengthening enamel, reducing sensitivity, controlling tartar, freshening breath and/or whitening teeth.
Since toothbrushes should be replaced every three to four months, why not buy a supply of soft-bristled brushes to last the entire year? And keep disposable toothbrushes, like the Colgate® Wisp® Optic White®, handy to throw in your purse for when you're on the go.
Using dental floss is often a hard habit to adopt, so once your family is flossing regularly, make sure there's plenty of floss on hand. And have an antimicrobial mouthwash, like Colgate Total® Advanced Pro-Shield™, available for extra protection against decay-causing bacteria.
Brush up on Technique
It's not enough to have all the necessary oral-hygiene products. You need to use them diligently and correctly if you want to reduce your risk for tooth decay and gum disease. Brush twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste. A stopwatch can help you get the timing down. Place the brush at a 45-degree angle against your gumline. Using short back-and-forth strokes, brush the inside, outside and chewing surfaces of all teeth. For fresher breath, don't forget to gently brush your tongue (and maybe try a tongue brush)!
Floss once a day using an 18- to 24-inch piece of dental floss. Wrap the floss around the middle finger of each hand, leaving 1 to 2 inches in between, and carefully slide it between the teeth with a back-and-forth motion. Curve the floss around the base of each tooth, gently slide it under the gum tissue and use clean sections of floss as you go around your mouth.
Review and Correct Harmful Habits
Everyday habits can wreak havoc on your oral health. Frequently sucking on hard candies or sipping coffee loaded with cream and sugar throughout the day, for instance, exposes your teeth to long periods of "acid attacks," increasing your chances for tooth decay. And if you drink lots of soda, the high sugar and acid content may eventually erode the enamel of your teeth. Limit soda drinking by keeping your fridge stocked with water and plenty of milk.
If you chew ice, nibble on the tip of your pen or have oral piercings, you may eventually chip or break a tooth. Grinding or clenching your teeth can also cause a tooth to crack or break, as well as wear down the enamel of your teeth or trigger pain in the area of your temporomandibular joint. In order to correct this habit, you'll need the help of your dentist. Tobacco use also, not only stains your teeth, but it can lead to gum disease. Smoking and alcohol use are the most important risk factors for oral cancer, according to the Mouth Cancer Foundation.
Schedule Dental Appointments
There's no better time than now to schedule your routine dental checkup and cleaning. Your dentist will examine your mouth for signs of decay and gum disease, take any necessary X-rays and do an oral cancer screening. A professional cleaning keeps your gums healthy by removing the hard tartar that you can't get off with your toothbrush. These appointments are key to detecting and taking care of minor problems before they become more complicated dental issues. And because scheduling checkup appointments can be easily forgotten, make your next appointment before leaving the office and either write in on your calendar or put it in your phone.
Why not start out the new year with a clean bill of dental health? Implement your oral detox plan today and reap the benefits for years to come.