It’s spring already. If you’re like 99.9% of us, the New Year’s resolutions you made in December have found a comfortable place in the back of your mind, and many old habits you’ve been struggling with have resurfaced.
It’s not uncommon: we’re busy, we’re tired, and sometimes life just gets in the way. More often than not, our New Year’s resolutions are major (but vague) promises like, “I’m going to lose weight,” or “I’m going to quit smoking,” that don’t generally cooperate with the “cold turkey” method. It can feel like we’re setting ourselves up for failure.
But, that doesn’t mean throwing in the towel and giving up on improving yourself. Rather, take a balanced approach and make small, but meaningful changes a little at a time to help you stick to them over the long term.
Take your oral health, for example.
Change takes time
Improving dental habits will require intentional and ongoing efforts.
If you’ve been taking care of your teeth the same basic way for decades, it’s a big deal to try to change all of that instantly and start doing things exactly the way the experts recommend.
After all, for most of us, brushing our teeth is a mindless habit at this point. It’s simply something we do at a certain time every day without thinking about it, relying on muscle memory to handle the process.
Mindfully changing that to ensure we’re actually caring for our oral health is going to take time and effort. So, small changes, made intentionally, are much more likely to stick.
One step at a time
The instructions for maintaining proper oral health are easy to find. Here’s a comprehensive list of brushing, flossing, and rinsing guidelines that you could print out and tape to your mirror for a daily reminder.
"...small changes, made intentionally, are much more likely to stick."
Are mastering all of those steps unrealistic? Instead, why not try to just take one step toward improvement, and when you’ve made that part of your daily routine, tack on the next step?
For practice, start with the first step outlined below and make just one change or addition to your habits each week and you’ll find excellent oral health has become second nature in just a few weeks!
Steps to optimum oral health
To make dental care easier, learn to follow a quick list of steps to take each day.
- Brush your teeth immediately upon waking - While you sleep, saliva production goes down, giving bacteria in your mouth several hours to flourish. It’s not just about “morning breath,” it’s about preventing tooth decay and gum disease. (Added benefit: for most of us, this will automatically satisfy Step Two at the same time.)
- Brush at least twice per day - Most of us habitually brush our teeth before bed, which is great. Ensuring a second time (like immediately upon waking) is essential.
- Floss at least once per day - Most of us already have floss on hand at our house. Flossing at least once every day helps remove plaque and microscopic bits of food that your brush can’t reach.
- Spend at least 2-3 minutes brushing - Another problem with relying on muscle memory when we brush is that nearly everyone tends to go way too fast. Dentists recommend spending at least two minutes to make sure you’re thoroughly cleaning every surface of every tooth. Invest another 1-2 minutes on flossing, and you’re in for 5 minutes, twice a day.
- Use mouthwash between meals - A quality mouthwash that’s designed to clean the mouth (rather than just momentarily freshen breath) is your best defense against the issue of time that gets in the way of properly cleaning your teeth after every meal. It takes just a few seconds, and it’s almost as good as brushing, as long as you’re not relying on it exclusively.
- Schedule your six-month dental checkup - No oral health plan is complete without a semiannual dental checkup by a professional. Even the best home care can’t accomplish everything a professional cleaning can, and your dentist can also be looking out for your overall health when inspecting your teeth. If cost is your reason for skipping this step, consider a discount dental card to make routine visits much more affordable.
Once you add each of these steps to your oral health routine over several weeks, the first five should become ingrained habits. Step six only occurs every six months, so consider pre-scheduling after your next visit to ensure you stay on track. To find out more about saving 20%-50% with a dental card through Dental Solutions today.