New Year, New You!
Happy 2019 from ALFIE Dentistry to you!
As with every new year, it's almost an unavoidable topic: so we've hopped on the bandwagon and we're going to talk about NY Resolution(s)! You either love 'em, hate 'em, or simply avoid making 'em - but unless you live under a rock in the middle of nowhere, you've probably heard it pop up in conversations at least once already.
Self-improvement can be great. It doesn't necessarily mean that there's something 'wrong' with you that needs to be fixed. But 'pobody's nerfect' - so there will always be room to grow and become a better you. Having said that, the startling trend with resolutions is that only a small percentage of people actually accomplish what they set out to do...so we're going give a couple of dental-related NY Resolutions Suggestions (because of course we would). We're also going to give some tips on how to keep persevering and how to actually turn your resolutions into reality.
1) Floss Daily
LOL, yes...our hope is that this is already a habit with you - or even better yet - flossing twice daily. A CDA report suggests that only 28% of Canadians floss 5 times a week (see this report here). We're not going to name any names here, but just a heads up: if we ask you about flossing and you lie about it, we do see the evidence that suggests otherwise.
We'll also know if you've only just flossed moments before your dental appointment - when you haven't been doing it on the regular since we've last seen you.
We hate to sound like a broken record, but flossing is important to get all the gunk out from underneath the gum line as well as the spaces between your teeth that are not accessible using a toothbrush only.
Especially if the doctors tell you that i) you have cavities and ii) they're all mostly between the teeth - you should really look to flossing daily. Especially if you have gum disease, it's really important to keep your mouth as clean as you can - so flossing is also very important for you.
For the rest of us: if we want to keep our teeth and gums healthy, we need to floss as well.
2) Brush Twice Daily for Two Minutes Each Time
So, based on that same report mentioned above, about 73% of Canadians brush twice (or more) daily. We didn't really think we'd have to write this one in as a resolution, but yes - please do brush two times a day, for two minutes each time.
3) Quit Smoking
If you're a smoker, it's in your best interest to quit - not just for your oral health, but also for your overall health. In terms of dental health, you're looking at increased risk of oral cancers when you smoke. You're also looking at a higher risk of advanced periodontal (gum) disease if you smoke. It can stain your teeth yellow. It can make your breath smell. It can dull your tastebuds. Smoking can also aggravate a dry mouth - which can lead to more cavities.
So, look into quitting for all of the above reasons and beyond. Since we know that smoking is addictive and you can experience withdrawal symptoms, speak to your medical health care professional for advice and assistance.
In the meantime, we can help you look after your remaining teeth - just ask your dentist if you can come more frequently for cleaning and checkups - so we can keep an eye on potential problems. During those times, we can also work to prevent any existing problems from getting worse (e.g. keeping mild periodontal disease controlled - before it gets to the advanced stages).
3) Reduce the consumption of sugary snacks
So, a quick internet search gave us a list of the most popular new years resolutions - and each year, the ones that never fail to top the list are 'losing weight' and 'eating more nutritiously'. The good news is, if you reduce the consumption of sugary snacks, you're also helping out with these two other resolutions! Win-Win.
For your oral health, sugar that sits on your teeth are consumed by the bacteria in your mouth. They release acids and these acids can damage teeth and cause caries.
Reduce or eliminate sugary treats and you're half-way there. You're still going to have to brush and floss though, LOL.
4) Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
We might not always think of this tip as dentists - but drinking more water can help to:
* rinse away some food particles that are left in your mouth (which can otherwise cause cavities)
* reduce/prevent in-between meal snacking. It sounds like we're doing a bit of stretch here, but most of the time, when we think we're 'hungry', we're actually thirsty and are misreading the signals. So, if we satiate a thirst with water instead of grabbing a snack, we're not exposing the teeth to more food (and therefore, more opportunities for cavities)
* Prevent/reduce dry mouth. Did you know that people with dry mouth (xerostomia) are more susceptible to cavities and gum disease and may experience bad breath. If you're not drinking water to alleviate the discomfort of dry mouth, then at least drink the water to prevent these other conditions.
5) Reduce the consumption of caffeinated and alcoholic beverages
Both caffeine and alcohol are diuretics - so they work to eliminate water from your body. Become dehydrated enough and it'll dry out your mouth (see above for things that can happen if you have dry mouth).
Coffee can stain your teeth and make your breath smell bad. It may also be related to leaching calcium away from teeth and bones.
Alcohol contains lots of sugar, which can damage your teeth (same if you were to add a lot of sugar to your coffees as well!)
The Keys to Success
Ok, so experts say that only about 8% of people who make resolutions actually end up executing what they had set out to do. If that seems kind of on the 'low' side - we agree. But, there are also some tried and true strategies you can use to make them less of a pipe dream and more of a reality.
1) Be specific and break down the goals into manageable pieces.
It's been suggested that people who make generalized statements like, "I want to lose weight" as their resolutions will not be likely to succeed. If they take some extra time to set clear steps, then they are more likely to achieve their goals. So instead of saying, "I want to lose weight.", you might say, "I'm going to wake up 10 minutes early and do 20 jumping jacks every day. When my body gets used to that and I don't tire out as easily, I will increase that to 30 jumping jacks". Something like that. Of course, because your body gets used to exercise, you'll have to switch it up a bit and create new definitions as you get healthier.
In terms of our dental resolutions - if you noticed above, we didn't recommend a resolution to be, "Improve oral health" (because that's way too general and there's no plan of action on how to improve the oral health). Instead, we broke it down to "floss x amount of times" and other manageable steps.
2) Write it down
And keep yourself accountable that way. Once you've written it down, make sure it's in a spot where you can see it often (like the bathroom mirror). That way, you'll have constant reminders.
Who doesn't like a good reward after some hard-core effort? Make sure that this isn't totally unreasonable - you want to pair the reward to an actual accomplishment - which means you're probably not going to treat yourself to a movie or a new gadget every single time you floss (but perhaps a week of flossing or a month of flossing will get you your chosen reward). You also don't want to space out the rewards too far apart - because you'll more likely lose interest if it takes a year of flossing in order to treat yourself to a new book.
It's also not a good idea to treat yourself to 'cake' from accomplishing these dental goals (because the cake counteracts all the hard work you did!) Look for things/activities you'd enjoy without ruining all the progress you've made.
For more tips on slaying your NY Resolutions, we found this article quite helpful (They share some similarities to what we've said already - but they have a total of 8 tips on how to get you there! Enjoy!)