January is a month full of excitement, goal-setting and resolutions for the New Year. While you’re joining the gym, setting a new budget, or vowing to be more mindful of your health, don’t forget that your dental health should be at the top of the list. After all, your oral health is the gateway to your overall medical health, and it’s your smile that greets the beginning of new relationships.
Consider a few dental health goals that will keep you smiling, healthy and happy throughout 2015.
Brush and Floss. It’s no secret that brushing regularly is key to good oral health. But once a day is not enough. Research shows that most people spend about 48 seconds brushing their teeth. The recommended time for a thorough cleaning is 2 minutes. Commit to brushing for at least 2 minutes twice a day, then flossing between teeth to remove plaque.
Eat Healthier. Food doesn’t just help the body, it helps the mouth as well (and don’t forget that muscle is made in the gym, abs are made in the kitchen). Processed foods that stick to the teeth promote bacteria and plaque development. Eating whole foods that are rich in nutrients and that have a range of textures not only promotes saliva production which clears away plaque, but it also removes debris while you chew. Need some suggestions of foods that help keep your teeth happy?
- Raw celery, carrots, and broccoli. The crunchy texture of these veggies will help keep your teeth clean and reduce plaque.
- Dark chocolate and certain cheeses (think Monterey Jack) help coat the teeth and protect them from harmful bacteria.
Go Sugar-free. Chewing gum not only keeps your breath fresh, but it’s a great way to keep those salivary glands active and plaque build-up to a minimum. Unfortunately, not all gums are created equal. Choose ADA approved sugar-free gum over bubble gum or breath mints.
Kick tobacco to the curb! There’s no dental or nutritional value that comes from using tobacco products of any kind. Simply put, they can cause plaque and tartar buildup, promote gum disease, and increase your risk for oral and lung cancer.
Drink responsibly. What does drinking have to do with your oral health? Most soft drinks,sports drinks, and juices have added sugar. Sipping on these all day provides a constant flow of sugar to your teeth. Even alcoholic beverages turn to sugar, meaning that they too can be harmful to your teeth and promote cavities. Limit your sugar intake from beverages as you would for sweets or other foods.