2015 is over and the promises of new beginnings and fresh starts are upon us! This is always a great time to reflect on what worked in the past year, what didn’t, and what we can improve and build on in 2016. So while you’re carefully crafting your New Year’s resolutions, why not add having positively stellar dental hygiene to the list?
This could be the year that you finally get the smile you’ve been waiting for. Here are a few hacks to help you along the way!
1. Back to basics: You’re probably brushing wrong. Let’s talk about proper brushing technique!
Most people want to scrub their teeth like they’re removing stains from carpet. Take it from us, stop attacking your teeth with your toothbrush! Gentle brushing using short strokes is the way to go. Otherwise you may damage your gum tissue, which could lead to periodontal problems in the future. While we’re talking about gums, when you’re brushing your top row, make sure you’re brushing with your brush turned upwards at a 45 degree angle. Do the same on the bottom row with your brush turned downwards at a 45 degree angle. This will help to stimulate the gums and break up the bacteria that wants to hide there!
2. Know when to floss.
We can not stress enough how important flossing is to your dental health! It’s reported that only 69% of Americans floss daily. The reasons for not flossing are many, some feel they don’t have the time and some just don’t think it’s worth the effort. However, skipping the floss can wreak serious havoc on your mouth. Flossing gets rid of the food stuck between the teeth before it can turn into plaque. This protects your gums from gingivitis and protects your teeth from decay. Keep in mind that you should only floss once a day, as over-flossing can lead to serious damage of the gum tissue. Add this to your nightly routine and your teeth will thank you!
3. Know the power of habit.
A lot of us are unaware of how much of our everyday lives are dictated by the conscious and subconscious habits that we form. Habits usually get talked about in negative light, like they are always something trying to be broken. But it’s important to understand that the power of habit can be wielded to work for you rather than against you! It’s been said that a new habit can be formed in as little as 21 days. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of having to floss your teeth everyday for the rest of your life, first try committing to just 3 weeks of flossing. Then you may find that flossing is just like clockwork for you and the effort will be minimal. The most important part of forming a new habit is to have a set cue to remind you when it’s time to act. Try setting a reminder on your phone for the same time each day, or download a habit tracking app like Productive to help give you a nudge each day.
4. Switch to an alcohol free mouthwash
Most people don’t know that a dry mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria. Saliva is important to maintaining the pH balance of the mouth, delivering minerals and vitamins to the teeth, and washing away bacteria. Mouthwash is an important part of your dental routine, but for someone who is already prone to a dryer mouth, the alcohol in most mouthwashes can causes further dryness. There are plenty of effective, alcohol free mouthwashes on the market. A simple switch could make a big difference for your teeth!
5. Don’t forget the tongue!
Ok so you’ve totally nailed down your brushing technique, you’re flossing like a pro, but you still can’t seem to get rid of that bad breath and that fuzz on your teeth. You’re probably forgetting the importance of a clean tongue! Bacteria likes to get pretty comfortable on your tongue, so it’s important to make sure it gets a little TLC too. Brushing your tongue is effective, but it’s important to brush the tongue using more of a scraping motion. That way you lift the bacteria off, rather than smashing it further down into the tongue. Even better than using your toothbrush, we recommend getting yourself a handy dandy tongue scraper and using it daily.
6. Sanitize your toothbrush regularly and replace it every 3 months
After every use, you should always rinse your toothbrush off using hot water, then store it upright to allow for it to air-dry. We also recommend keeping some food grade hydrogen peroxide on hand. Soak your toothbrush in the hydrogen peroxide at least once a week for 5-10 minutes to kill off any lingering bacteria. After you’ve had your toothbrush for three months, toss it and treat yourself to a shiny new one!
7. Finally schedule that cleaning you’ve been talking about!
We all have our reasons for wanting to avoid the dentist, but getting your regular checkups and cleanings is the single most important part of improving your dental hygiene and preventing oral diseases! You should get your teeth professionally cleaned every 6 months, so what are you waiting for?!
We hope these dental hygiene hacks serve you well this New Year. Here’s to a healthy, happy, and sparkly clean 2016!
If you’re ready to get a jumpstart on your resolution to improve your smile, schedule your dental appointment with us today. We can’t wait to hear from you!
NIKKI J. CHRISTIAN, DDS
3820 South Whitney Avenue
Independence, MO 64055
WESLEY L. CHRISTIAN, DDS
1400 South Outer Road
Blue Springs, MO 64015