It happens every year. The holiday slope begins with Halloween, and the next thing we know, we’re watching football in late November with a full belly and either eagerly participating in or even more blatantly refusing to shop on Black Friday. Before you know it, the holidays are over and you’ve eaten about 10 million sugar cookies (and no figgy puddings, yet again). Your belly is bloated and your mouth has that residual aftertaste of sugar. Through the fog of your sugar low, you vow to be super healthy in 2015: no carbs, no sugar, no coffee, no enjoyment of food whatsoever. Plus, you tell yourself that you’re definitely going to work out every day. Or at least, like, three times a week. 2015 is your year!
Then January 7 rolls around, and a quarter of resolutions made have been abandoned. By January 10, it’s a third. (And that is statistically accurate, so good luck making it to March!)
This year, focus on simple resolutions that are easy to keep. The foods that are good for your heart and your weight are also the foods that are good for your teeth. The plaque that you want to avoid in your arteries is the plaque that you can remove by brushing and flossing. The water that helps hydrate your skin and flush out toxins also keeps your breath fresh by keeping bacteria at bay. The cigarettes that are destroying your lungs are also destroying your gums and teeth. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then the mouth is the window to the body.
With that said, here are five tips for keeping your mouth and your body healthy in 2015:
1. Brush twice a day for two minutes.
There are a lot of great new gadgets your dentist can recommend to help you achieve your daily brushing goal if a manual toothbrush just doesn’t entice you. Most electric toothbrushes come with a two-minute timer to help you monitor your brushing and match your dentist’s recommendation. When you compare the clean feeling electric brushes give you over manual brushes, you might even get a bit more excited about brushing more often. Consumer Reports can also help you figure out which brush might meet your needs.
Unsurprisingly, flossing typically falls by the wayside as an oral-care habit. It can be an awkward and even painful process, but it’s incredibly important for your gums and teeth. Brushing alone only removes some of the plaque and food debris in your mouth, while flossing helps remove buildup between teeth while strengthening gums at the same time. If your gums seem overly sensitive or you see blood in the sink when you floss, keep doing it. Those signs can indicate poor oral health. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist to show you the correct way to floss, and stick with it. After about two or three days, you’ll notice that your gums aren’t in pain, and you might get addicted to that clean-mouth feeling!
3. Drink more water.
Drinking water is another thing you may not like doing, but replacing your sweet beverages offers a simple way to lose a few pounds. Those drinks can also stain your teeth, so drinking water will help both to avoid staining in the first place and to wash early stains away. It also keeps your breath fresh and can help keep your appetite under control. Its neutral pH helps balance the pH in your mouth, which is important for your oral health. It’s also great for your skin and other organs.
4. Quit smoking.
Do I really need to say anything about this? You know you shouldn’t smoke. Smoking stains your teeth, can lead to gum disease, increases the amount of plaque and tartar in the mouth, speeds bone loss in the jaw, and increases your risk for a variety of oral and throat cancers. While there are a variety of benefits to quitting, your mouth will benefit in a major way when you cut down or stop all together.
5. Eat healthy foods.
Parsley keeps your breath fresh. Sugar damages your teeth. Seems simple enough, right? Remember, the best foods for your mouth include cheese; chicken; nuts; milk; and crunchy fruits and veggies such as apples, carrots and celery. Bad for your mouth: candy, cookies, cakes, pies, breads, muffins, potato chips, pretzels, French fries, bananas and dried fruits.
I wish you the best of luck with your New Year’s resolutions. Follow this guide, and you might achieve more than you thought you could with a few simple food replacements and additional oral health care habits. Happy 2015!