Each day, week and month presents countless opportunities to set goals, improve your health and better your lifestyle. But of course, New Year's Day, in particular, is the perfect time to make resolutions to follow for the rest of the year.
As you set goals in the upcoming days and weeks, don't forget to account for your oral health. When you commit to taking care of your teeth, you not only ensure your teeth stay in good shape but you also improve your smile's appearance.
Not sure what resolutions to make? Try these five suggestions.
1. Eat Fibre-Rich Foods
Fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of fibre. Fibre is difficult to digest, and as a result, you have to chew fibre-rich foods much longer than foods high in protein or fat.
Additional chewing stimulates saliva production to aid the digestive process. But extra saliva also helps your teeth by depositing minerals on your teeth that strengthen the enamel. Saliva also simultaneously rinses away food particles that would otherwise lead to decay.
Most experts recommend eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. To reach that amount, take healthy on-the-go snacks such as apples or carrot sticks with you whenever you travel to work or school.
2. Focus on Flossing
Statistics show that nearly 90% of adults do not floss their teeth. And those who do floss likely need to improve their technique.
Whenever you floss, make sure to gently string the floss between your teeth, and always follow the contours of your tooth. Avoid sawing the floss back and forth as well as flicking the floss up and down between your teeth.
Although many people find flossing easier to remember if they do it after brushing, you don't have to limit flossing to your bedtime routine. Tuck some floss into your purse or pocket and whip out the floss after your lunch break or afternoon snack.
3. Drink More Water
Your teeth need a pH level of 7.0 (or slightly higher) to stay healthy. When your mouth's pH drops below 5.5, the acids demineralise your enamel, significantly increasing your likelihood for dental caries and decay.
Fortunately, water stays at a constant 7.0 pH level. Whenever you take a sip, you restore your mouth's natural pH levels as well as rinse away food particles. And if your tap water has fluoride, you deposit minerals on your teeth that strengthen your enamel and protect against decay.
Many doctors recommend that you drink two litres of water each day, more if you participate in intense physical exercise. If you struggle to hit that amount, fill up a water bottle or thermos and keep it with you while you work. Set a reminder on your mobile or computer to take a drink at least every hour.
4. Perfect Your Brushing Technique
You've probably brushed your teeth every morning and night since you were a child. By now, the habit feels so natural that you feel strange if you miss that part of your routine.
But are you brushing correctly?
If you brush too vigorously, you wear away your enamel. If you brush with a side-to-side or up-and-down motion, you create permanent lines and furrows in your teeth. And if you thoroughly rinse out the toothpaste in your mouth, you leave your mouth vulnerable to decay.
So make a goal to brush properly this year. Use light, circular motions, and focus on cleaning through repetition rather than force. Brush every surface of each tooth, both front and back.
5. Schedule Your Dentist Appointment
Although brushing and flossing fight some of the day-to-day build-up, they don't completely remove years of plaque and tartar build-up. Only your dentist has the tools and experience necessary to give your teeth that deep clean they deserve.
If you can't remember your last dentist appointment, you're likely overdue for a visit. And even if you visited your dentist recently, don't forget to add your next appointment to your calendar. Most professionals would recommend that you stop by every six months. But if you smoke, have diabetes or undergoing orthodontic treatment or suffer from a weakened immune system, you should schedule a trip at least every three to four months.
Enjoy a Better Smile This Year
These are just a few ways to improve your smile and your oral health. With a little creativity, you can think of additional goals that will keep your teeth looking and feeling great.