The New Year is upon us and many of you are committing to New Year’s resolutions to incorporate new and healthy habits in your life. As you consider making a change, I encourage you to make the health of your smile a top priority in 2014. A smile radiates an irresistible beauty and a dazzling smile has the power to boost your self-confidence and project a picture of optimal health. Here are five tips to help you maintain a healthy and bright smile in the New Year.
1. Put your money in your mouth. You splurge on the best moisturizer to help your skin stay younger longer, and you invest in a good pair of running shoes to protect your ankles and feet from injury. The products and tools you purchase for your smile are imperative for the health of your mouth. Electric toothbrushes, although more expensive than traditional brushes, have been shown to be more effective at removing plaque and may eliminate costly fillings down the road.
2. Oral health detox. Your mouth is an ecosystem of about 700 species of both good and bad bacteria, a naturally occurring balance that is optimal when the pH of your mouth is close to neutral. The American diet is highly acidic, a condition favorable to bad bacteria, so up your consumption of alkalinizing foods (think veggies) to create an environment for your teeth, gums and overall health to thrive.
3. Drink wisely. Water is a healthy smile’s best friend and ought to be consumed in abundance. In addition to the oral health benefits of fluoride, which is often found in tap water, water can help remove food particles stuck in the hard to reach places and rinse bacteria off the teeth. An added bonus: Water helps maintain a healthy digestive system and glowing skin. On the contrary, limit your consumption of alcohol and juice, as the high sugar content can cause decay and promote plaque.
5. Reduce stress. Stress has numerous effects on health and your mouth is no exception. Stress can make our jaw do all kinds of dangerous dances of clenching and grinding, a precursor to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). Stress can also play a role in the development of viral infections, canker sores and type 1 herpes lesions. Help manage your stress levels by getting an adequate amount of sleep, eating a balanced diet and smiling more often.
6. Take your time. We live in a fast-paced, on-the-go world and most of us can relate to the popular expression, “every minute counts.” Take this expression to heart when it comes to brushing your teeth. Two minutes, twice a day is the recommended amount of time and there is good reason for this. Spend 30 seconds per quadrant, covering all surfaces of each tooth. This is the amount of time necessary to effectively remove plaque and food particles from your teeth and help prevent oral health problems from developing.
In addition to the oral health benefits, incorporating these healthy habits will improve your overall health. With the growing body of evidence supporting the connection between oral health and overall health, it’s imperative to act favorably toward both. Make 2014 the year for a healthy smile and a healthy you!