• Dr. Tanner

Oral Health Habits For The New Year

Updated: Aug 29

Looking for a New Year’s resolution?

It’s no secret that many people use the New Year to jump-start their goals—most commonly related to health and wellness. But dental care is often forgotten. This year, make a resolution to create and maintain excellent oral health. Besides, your teeth deserve some extra love and attention!

Here are some achievable goals to work toward for a sparkling smile and healthier gums!

The most important thing to remember about home care is maintaining a regular routine and sticking with it. Each time you skip brushing and flossing, it gives the bacteria in your mouth a chance to gain a foothold, which can ultimately lead to gingivitis or tooth decay. Always think of your teeth as having 5 surfaces that need to be cleaned: the front, the back, the top, the right side and the left side. In addition, food can get trapped under the gums, so this is another area that needs attention.

So, how often should you clean your teeth?

At a minimum, you should clean your teeth twice a day.However, brushing after each meal is recommended. If you can’t squeeze in a mid-day brush, be sure to rinse vigorously with water after eating. This will at least remove much of food caught in your teeth. Another good option is to pop in a piece of sugarless chewing gum—this increases salivary flow thus neutralizing acids produced by bacteria.

Brushing: Proper brushing technique is the key to eliminating food and plaque. Brushing is only helpful if you’re doing it correctly. Be sure to spend time brushing both the front and back surfaces of your teeth then finish with the top. Subconsciously, right-handed people have a tendency to do a better job brushing across arch (left side of the mouth) and vice versa for left-handed people. So, don’t fall into this trap and give equal time to both sides of your mouth! Also, angle the toothbrush toward the gums. This helps to not only clean along the gum line, but also to massage the gums, which can increase blood flow, fight gum disease and improve overall gum health.

Remember: To properly clean each tooth, brushing should take about two minutes.

Remember: Change your toothbrush (or toothbrush head if using an electric toothbrush) on a regular basis. Bristles often lose their cleaning ability over time, as they soften AND lose their shape. Changing your toothbrush helps to ensure the tool you’re using is in its best condition to clean.

Flossing: Floss once a day. You are probably reminded at every dental cleaning visit to floss regularly. But why is flossing so important? Because it is the only way to remove food and plaque that is caught between the teeth. Remember we talked about teeth having 5 surfaces and tooth brushing cleans three of these. If you don’t floss, then you are missing almost 50% of the tooth surfaces that need attention. In addition, flossing removes food caught under the gums. There is a saying in the dental field: “Only floss the teeth you want to keep.” If you find flossing difficult or tedious, try a Waterpik Flosser or a floss pick / stick.

Helpful Hint: If you have really tight contacts, choose ribbon floss like Reach Total Care or Oral B Glide. Be sure to wrap the floss around the neck of each individual tooth and drop gently below the gum line—don’t just snap the floss between the contacts. One final bit of advice, try flossing before brushing instead of after. Rinse vigorously then brush for that ultimate clean!

Consistency is key! Stay committed to your goals by implementing a checklist or setting daily reminders on your phone to brush and floss. To help ensure you don’t skip brushing or flossing, try to avoid cleaning your teeth when you’re rushed or tired. Set aside ample time to check off your new habits so you’re not tempted to skip them.

With these oral health resolutions, you’ll be on track to better dental health in 2022!

If you have questions about the benefits of Invisalign treatment, please call Visage Orthodontics at 505-670-6145 or visit our appointment page to schedule a complimentary consultation with me, Dr. Tanner, your Santa Fe Invisalign specialist. I will review everything in detail and develop a customized treatment plan to fit your lifestyle and budget.

A confident and beautiful smile is right around the corner!