There are a lot of options that come to mind for being healthier in the New Year: eating healthy, working out, taking daily walks. What doesn’t usually come to mind is that gateway to your body: your mouth. However, the health of your mouth is important. Studies have come out linking poor oral health to health problems like heart disease. With your mouth being the gateway to your body, it’s no wonder that bacteria gain entrance to your body through your mouth.
What is surprising is that poor oral health can create a climate ripe for bacteria to enter and cause problems in other parts of your body. And that same cause-and-effect also works in reverse: your dentist can tell if you have conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure simply by looking in your mouth. So how can you keep your mouth as healthy as the rest of your body in the New Year?
Keep a regular brushing schedule.
Cavities occur because of a combination of bacteria, food, saliva, and the resulting acid. If you want to keep harmful bacteria and food in check this year, make sure you brush several times a year. Ideally, you should brush after every meal. At the very least, brush twice a day (usually in the morning and night). If you want to make your tooth brushing more effective, use these tips.
Floss, floss, floss…did we mention floss?
Statistics have shown that most people don’t floss their teeth, and that’s a shame. Flossing is your next line of defense after brushing—or vica versa. It doesn’t matter what order you floss and brush; it only matters that you do both. Flossing catches all the plaque and harmful bacteria that is missed during flossing.
Minimize the soda you drink.
Scientific studies have shown a strong connection between sodas (even diet ones) and tooth decay. Minimizing your soda intake can prevent tooth decay and cavities and keep your mouth healthier. If you do enjoy an occasional soda, use a straw. Swish water gently in your mouth after you are done to rid your mouth of sugar that can mingle and cause any number of unhealthy conditions.
Even with brushing and flossing, sugar can still cause cavities and tooth decay in deep grooves and pits (especially on your back teeth). If you want another line of defense, ask your dentist if sealants are right for you. Sealants are another line of defense, covering your teeth and protecting your teeth from harmful bacteria and sugars.
Make a dental cleaning a regular priority.
If you want to keep your mouth healthy, schedule a regular deep cleaning with your dentist—and keep it. Your dentist can tell you how often a cleaning is right for your mouth, and together you can make a plan for a healthier mouth in the New Year and into the future.