As the New Year officially begins, it is time to put your resolutions into practice. Taking good care of your teeth is one of the best New Year’s resolutions you can make. Every day plaque forms on your teeth when you eat and drink. It contains bacteria with acids that break down tooth enamel, causing cavities to develop in children and adults. Keeping your teeth clean is essential to keeping decay at bay.

When you change any behavior, including adding healthy habits to your routine, it is helpful to break up tasks into small, manageable pieces. Then you can focus on one thing at a time – and before you know it, you will find yourself making permanent changes. Here are some ways to get started on making your oral health a priority in 2014.

New-Year_ResolutionsChoose a dentist. If you don’t already have a family dentist, this is the time to find one. Ask friends and family for recommendations. If possible, find a dentist close to your home or office in case of an emergency. Then schedule a consultation as soon as possible – many offices get booked up quickly and there may be a wait.

Make regular appointments. It’s important to see the dentist at least once every six months for a routine cleaning and exam. The dental hygienist will get your teeth clean and remove plaque and tartar build-up. In addition, regular exams give your dentist the opportunity to identify issues before they escalate. See Why You Need to See the Dentist Every Six Months for more information on the importance of regular appointments.

Purchase a new toothbrush and toothpaste. Whether you prefer a manual or electric toothbrush, be sure the one you buy has soft bristles that will make it easier to brush longer. Look for a small toothbrush head that can fit into crevices so that you brush thoroughly. For more help choosing a toothbrush, and to learn what to look for when picking out toothpaste, read Choosing the Best Toothbrush and Toothpaste.

Brush and floss properly. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing your teeth twice a day followed by flossing. Consider setting a timer for 2-3 minutes so that you don’t stop too soon. The best times to brush your teeth are after breakfast and before you go to sleep at night. To learn the proper way to brush your teeth, check out Cut Down on Cavities: The Steps for Proper Brushing.

Eat foods that are good for you. There are certain foods that actually help to improve your dental health. For example, eating many fruits and vegetables will remove plaque from your teeth. There are some spices, such as ginger, that act as anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling in your gums. For more suggestions on which foods to eat to improve your smile, see Healthy Foods for a Healthy Mouth.

Map out a plan to build strategies into your routine now so that you can begin making the necessary changes to improve your dental health throughout the rest of the year. Schedule your appointments and purchase your supplies – then get started today.

 

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