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Your New Year’s Dental Resolutions

These five resolutions could make a real difference for your oral - and overall - health.

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. Here are five resolutions that the dental office of

Jeff M. Morrison & Assoc., DDS

recommends for a healthier 2017.

1) Resolve to brush twice per day for at least two full minutes

Brushing your teeth - and doing it correctly - is important to your dental health as it removes bacterial plaque that adheres to your teeth. For successful plaque removal brush at least twice a day for a full two minutes. Use an appropriately sized, soft-bristle, manual or electric toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste. Also, don’t forget to change your toothbrush every three months. Using a frayed, worn toothbrush is less effective at removing plaque – it’s basically just pushing paste around.  A good idea is to change your toothbrush with the change in season, and after an illness.

Make sure that one of the times you brush is before going to bed. Not brushing at night allows bacteria to sit undisturbed, on your teeth and gums for 8 or 9 hours. Saliva flow, which protects your teeth from acidic, bacterial bi-products, decreases at night leaving your teeth defenseless. Give your mouth a fighting chance to be healthy by brushing at night!

2) Resolve to Floss Daily

Brushing alone usually only reaches about two thirds of your tooth surface.  That means that no matter how well you brush, one third of your tooth surface is not cleaned.  This is the area in between your teeth, and below your gum line where cavities and gum disease often start. Taking a minute or two to floss your teeth each day will help get rid of this bacteria decreasing the likelihood of developing these oral health problems.

The bacteria which accumulates in these areas can also lead to diseases beyond your mouth. Research has shown that bacteria and inflammation in the mouth, and gum disease, are linked to heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, difficulty controlling blood sugar levels in diabetes, low birth weight/pre-term births and even Alzheimer’s disease. Put floss by your bed or even floss while watching TV, just don’t forget to do it once per day!

3) Resolve to stop drinking sugary and acidic beverages

The disease-causing bacteria in your mouth thrive off sugar you consume – the more sugar you eat, the more sugar bacteria eat. These bacteria deposit acid on your teeth. This acid weakens, or decalcifies, your teeth – which is how cavities begin. If your drink of choice is acidic and sugary - such as a soft drink or energy drink, your teeth are not only being weakened by the acid from bacteria, but getting a double-dose of acid from the drink itself.

If you are going to have that Coke or Gatorade, use a straw so your teeth aren’t being bathed in as much sugar and acid. Don’t sip either; drink it and be done with it so your mouth has a chance to recover from the acid attack. Along the same lines, drink water after a sugary and/or acidic beverage, to help wash away the sugar and help bring your mouth back to being pH balanced.

4) Resolve to Quit Smoking or Using Other Tobacco Products

If you use tobacco, you  hear this all the time! However, it's a message that needs repeating. Using tobacco can harm your mouth in a number of ways, increasing your risk for tooth discoloration, cavities, gum recession, gum disease and throat, lung and

oral cancer.

Smokers are about twice as likely to lose their teeth as non-smokers. It’s not just smoking tobacco that has negative effects on your oral health: use of smokeless tobacco can be just as harmful to your oral health. The good news is that the risk of tooth loss decreases after you quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco.

5) Resolve to keep regular and recommended dental appointments

Regular dental appointments

allow our team to monitor the health of your entire oral cavity. Many oral health problems, such as

chronic gum disease

and

cavities

, don’t hurt in the beginning stages. It’s only when they have progressed to a point where treatment is quite extensive (not to mention expensive) that you actually feel any discomfort. For instance, a cavity tends to only hurt once it has reached the center of the tooth where the nerves are located. At this point, a filling may not take care of the problem. A root canal and a crown may be required, if the tooth can be saved at all. For something like oral cancer - you may not feel any pain or see evidence of a problem until it has significantly progressed. This is why detecting problems early is so important.

Hygiene appointments are more than “just a teeth cleaning.” Remember how oral bacteria from gum disease has been linked to diseases in the body? Our hygienists remove this disease-causing plaque full of bacteria, and the hardened/calcified plaque (tarter or calculus) during your regular cleaning. I also evaluate your head, neck, and tissue in the mouth for any indication of abnormalities, such as

cancer

. Some diseases and disorders show symptoms in your mouth before your body; like diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, and autoimmune disorders. During your exam we will notice any changes and alert you to underlying issues that may be present.

Let us know how you are doing with your New Year's dental resolutions at your next visit. If there is any way we can help you achieve your goals for this year

get in touch

!

Michael Anne, our Scheduling Coordinator and an avid runner, will be stepping it up this year.