(StatePoint) The New Year is the perfect time to hit “reset” and start over with fresh dental habits that can help improve your health.
“As we move into the new year, so many of us are looking at our health and wellness through a new lens,” says Dr. Ruchi Sahota, American Dental Association (ADA) spokesperson. “Your oral and overall health are connected — and even small improvements in your oral health routine can have big payoffs in your overall well-being.”
To help you usher in 2021, the ADA offers seven recommendations for improving your family’s dental health routine:
1. Brush twice a day for two minutes each time using fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush. Place the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Gently move the brush back and forth in tooth-wide strokes. Brush the outer, inner and chewing surfaces of the teeth. To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make up-and-down strokes. Parents should instruct kids to do the same.
2. Clean between teeth daily using only interdental cleaners, such as floss or water flossers, to reduce the risk of cavities and gum disease.
3. Eat a nutritious diet. Sugary foods and snacks can lead to tooth decay. On the other hand, calcium- and phosphorous-rich foods protect and strengthen tooth enamel. Fruits and vegetables are also good choices for a healthy smile since they have high water and fiber content, which help clean teeth.
4. Schedule regular dental visits for prevention and treatment of oral disease. Experts say that your family can have safe dental visits, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Early in 2020, the ADA used science to develop guidance for dentists on extra steps they can take to help protect patients and staff, in addition to the infection control procedures they’ve always followed. According to a report published in the “Journal of the American Dental Association” in October, 2020, 99 percent of dentists are using enhanced infection control procedures and disinfection practices when treating patients.
5. Look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Every product carrying the seal has been evaluated by independent experts to be safe and effective. To earn the seal, companies are often asked to meet higher standards than what’s required by law. Look for specific seal bullets on the back of every seal product package to find out how they can help keep your mouth healthy.
6. Think twice if you’re considering DIY dental treatments. Some such fads, like oil pulling, are just not effective. Others, such as whitening with charcoal, could even cause damage. Before taking matters into your own hands, talk with your dentist to learn about the potential risks and benefits of each treatment.
“A dentist’s office is a safe place where a doctor is ensuring you’re getting quality care that will actually treat the root of your problem,” says Dr. Sahota.
7. Ditch bad habits that can harm oral health, like nail-biting, clenching your jaw, chewing ice and using your teeth as a stand-in for tools like scissors.
Resolving to improve your family’s overall health? Start with your dental care routine.