New Year, New You 

Establishing Oral Hygiene Rhythms for 2024 

A new year has rolled around again. Maybe in reflecting on the last one, you realized you weren’t so great about taking care of your teeth. Maybe your dentist even told you as much. Maybe you’re just looking for some tips and pointers to get a little better. Whatever situation you’re in, we want to help. The following advice is for you.  

Brush morning and night.  

    Brush twice a day—okay, that might be the ADA guidelines, but what does that mean? Can I brush anytime I want? While technically the two-times-a-day rule doesn’t come with a fixed hour, dentists recommend morning and night as optimal.

    Why morning? Lots of people probably brush after breakfast, but if you brush before, then you’re getting that saliva stimulated sooner—and as you may know, saliva plays a crucial role in maintaining peak dental health. It rinses away debris, neutralizes harmful acids, and even contributes to the vital process that restores lost minerals to your enamel.  If you’ve ever woken up with that dry, gross feeling in your mouth, you know that our mouths can lose moisture while we sleep. Brushing first thing in the morning is a great way to encourage your mouth to start producing the saliva it needs again. It also provides your mouth with a protective coating that may decrease the damage of everyday wear and tear. 

    Brushing at night is crucial for more obvious reasons: we need to scrub away all the sugar, acid, and bacteria that’s clung to our teeth throughout the day. Letting it sit overnight is a recipe for cavities. That’s why Colgate reports that, “Regular brushing before bed keeps germs in check and reduces the risk of cavities by 50%.”

    You may be tempted to just fall into bed after a long day, but don’t give in. A rhythm of 2 minutes of nightly brushing with proper technique will go further than nearly anything else to prevent cavities and gum disease, saving you from expensive and painful treatments down the road.  

    Tack flossing onto your nighttime brush.  

    Be honest—how many of us dread the moment when the dentist asks if we’ve been flossing lately? We know we’re faced with avoiding the question or telling the lackluster truth (which is, most likely, not as much as we should). But going into a new year is the perfect time to establish new rhythms. Instead of flossing sporadically whenever you remember or have something stuck in your teeth, try adding it onto your nightly routine. Making it a part of your daily routine will ensure that you don’t forget it or slack off. Doing it at night will allow the floss to clean out any food or debris that may have lodged itself in crevices of your teeth throughout the day. By utilizing the power of habit, you can face the dentist proudly next time, and you won’t have to avoid the question.  

    Set water intake goals and strategies for meeting them.  

      Perhaps unsurprisingly, water is extraordinary when it comes to its cleansing, health-giving powers—and that includes for dental health. If you want to improve your dental health this year, try integrating more water into your daily routine. There are plenty of ways you could go about this. You could tell yourself you have to drink a glass of water before every meal (an excellent strategy not only for dental health, but also for preventing overeating). You could use a water bottle with time indicators on it, telling you when you need to have drunk a certain amount. Of course, it’s always good practice when trying to drink more water to carry a water bottle or cup with you wherever you go.  

      The wonderful thing about water for your teeth is that it prevents dry mouth and rinses away leftover food particles at the same time, while hydrating you, all with no extra calories or sugar! The deal gets even sweeter if the water is fluoridated—then, you’re providing your teeth with the minerals they desperately need. Fluoridated water is powerful: as the University of Illinois Chicago pointed out, “…for most cities, every $1 invested in fluoridation saves $38 to treat dental problems.”

      So, drink up! Make it a part of your rhythm.  

      Set manageable nutrition goals.  

        It would be overwhelming for anyone to just say, “This year, I’m going to eat healthy!” Instead of making broad, generalized claims like that, try a specific, achievable claim. Say something like, “I’m going to stop eating dessert after 8pm,” or “I’m going to eat at least one serving of leafy greens of some sort every day.” By taking steps that are both specific (“eating one serving of leafy greens” instead of “eating healthy”) and achievable (yes, it is possible to skip that 11pm bowl of caramel popcorn), you set yourself up for success. It may be painful in the moment, but in the long run, your teeth will thank you.  

        If you’re looking to tailor your diet to achieve optimal oral health, you can be encouraged by the fact that what you should eat for healthy teeth is not especially different from what you should eat for a healthy body. Turns out, our bodies just like healthy food. In general, it is usually a good idea to reduce your sugar intake and increase your intake of foods with things like calcium, fluoride, and fiber.

        Mark your calendar to visit us!  

          Now you’ve gotten in these great new rhythms of oral health, don’t you want to show them off? It’s important to visit the dentist every six months so they can remove any plaque that’s hardened onto your teeth, check for cavities or other dental problems, and make sure you’re on the right track. Those bi-annual visits are a crucial part of a good oral health routine.  

          Luckily, scheduling your next visit is easy. Just call our office, and we would be happy to see you.

          If you would like to set up your next appointment or simply have other questions about how to achieve optimal oral health, please get in touch with us. Until then, we wish you the best in this new year.  

          About Our Team

          Our team of dental experts has well over 30 years of combined experience in the field of dentistry. To learn more about them, please visit our team page or stop by the clinic and say hello!