It’s amazing, but another year has gone by already!
With the move into 2019 — as is the case every year — we have the opportunity to set new and ambitious goals for ourselves, commit to phasing out bad habits and establishing good ones, and generally concentrate on making the upcoming year our best yet.
While it’s pretty common for New Year’s Resolutions to be lofty and tough to reach (not to mention easy to give up on), you don’t need to make huge, sweeping changes for them to be positive. In fact, one of the main reasons so many resolutions are broken and forgotten by February is that people try to do too much or change too drastically, which is hard to do. Because of that, resolutions often end in frustration and eventual failure.
However, setting small, easily attainable goals can lead to small wins, which will encourage you to keep going. That makes positive change easier, because you’re always making progress.
For example, what if you were to set a New Year’s Resolution to improve your oral health? Here’s how that positive goal can be broken down into a number of small, positive steps that can lead to real change in the new year:
The first key to a healthier mouth in 2019 is to make sure you see your dentist at least twice during the year.
If you’re going to have dental insurance in 2019, why not make your first goal to get to know your coverage details. If you don’t have access to dental insurance in the coming year, that’s not a problem. Instead, set a goal to explore dental insurance alternatives instead. If you can review that information before heading back to work after the New Year’s holiday, you’ll be able to check it off your list and move on to your second goal, choosing a dentist.
Choosing a dentist
Most formal dental insurance plans and dental discount plans will have a list of participating providers to choose from. If you already have a dentist you’re comfortable with, just make sure they’re on that list, then move on to your third goal in this process. If you don’t have a dentist already picked out, or if your dentist isn’t on the list, then it may take a little more time to locate one you want to see. That’s ok, it’s important enough to take that time.
Make an appointment
Your important third goal is to call and make an appointment for your first routine exam and cleaning of 2019.
"While it’s pretty common for New Year’s Resolutions to be lofty and tough to reach (not to mention easy to give up on), you don’t need to make huge, sweeping changes for them to be positive."
Obviously, if you’ve just recently had a semiannual cleaning, you’ll be scheduling out into the Spring. But, if it’s been a while since your last visit, it’s important to get to the office as early in the year as possible. Having your teeth professionally cleaned by a dental hygienist and your mouth thoroughly examined by your dentist is vital to your oral health, and it supercharges your progress toward successfully accomplishing your resolution.
If at all possible, try to have these first three steps completed by January 15 at the latest. That ensures you’re set up for success as the new year continues.
Swapping bad habits for good
Excellent oral health requires a combination of positive action and avoiding negative factors. In both cases, habits are involved. This is where sticking to your resolution may become challenging, but the three small wins you’ve already collected should help you hit the ground running at this stage.
Pick a day in the third week of January where you can sit down for half an hour or so and give some real thought to what you eat and drink. Nutrition is one of the most important factors you can control when it comes to promoting excellent oral health. During the 30 minutes you’ve set aside, look over the following three articles, which will give you a good grounding in how nutrition affects your oral health and what you can do to improve:
Based on what you learn and your current eating and drinking habits, write down some small changes you can make over the next few weeks to promote better oral health. Here are some common goals to get you thinking in the right direction:
Cut down on sugary drinks like soda, energy drinks, and fruit juices
Increase water intake
Cut down on hard and sticky candy
Increase your intake of crunchy fresh fruit and vegetables
Everyone’s list will be different, and that’s okay. It’s important not to overwhelm yourself, and not to try to change too much at once. If you need to spread these goals out over the next six months or more, that’s fine. The key is continuing to collect those small wins.
For most people, this one is pretty easy because the brushing habit has been ingrained in us since we were kids. You may not need to set a specific goal at all, if you’re currently brushing your teeth at least twice a day for at least two minutes each time. You can set reminders on your phone and even use the phone’s timer to make sure you’re doing a good job.
Flossing should be as ingrained a habit as brushing our teeth, but the fact is, most people don’t do it nearly enough.
It’s almost a guarantee you need to set a goal to floss your teeth at least once every day. Flossing serves the same purpose as brushing, but focuses on the spots between teeth and at the gum line where your toothbrush can’t reach. This is where most cavities appear in patients who think they take great care of their teeth.
Here’s how to floss effectively. Get that habit going by February 15th at the latest. Another smartphone reminder can be very helpful.
Putting it all together
If you follow the outline above, you’ll be well on your way to achieving excellent oral health in 2019. And, with that important resolution broken down into manageable chunks, you’ll be able to collect those vital small wins and stay motivated to make real changes.
Here’s a checklist you can print out and post on the fridge, or copy into your To Do or calendar app today. Then, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running in the New Year!
Get to know your coverage details OR explore dental insurance alternatives
Choose a dentist
Make an appointment
Think about what you eat and drink and write down some small changes you can make. (add as many as you need, and remember: don’t try to do too much at once!):
Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time
Floss your teeth once a day