Getting a better job, learning a new language, taking a class, losing weight, saving more money, quitting tobacco, and more are among the most popular new year’s resolutions. These are all great pursuits for improving your life and health, but did you know that only little more than half of Americans brush and floss on a daily basis? When you think about how important these two actions are to preventing the many pains and complication that result from gum disease, one would expect daily brushing and flossing to be somewhere on the list of popular resolutions; troublingly, it is not!
If you are making 2013 your year to lose some stubborn pounds, eat more greens and stay away from tobacco, you’re making a great choice--- and if you don’t do it already, why not add in a change that only takes minutes of your day and could add years to your health?
To help you make a new commitment to daily brushing and flossing, here are some tips to get you started and help you stick with it!
Fit It In With Your Current Routine
As you start and end your day, you probably have a routine that doesn’t vary that much from one day to the next. Whether it’s getting the kids on the school bus or checking your email before you head to work, find a way to work in an extra few minutes to care for your smile. Brushing and flossing is ideally done about thirty minutes after you eat. Simply brushing and flossing your teeth right when you leave the house in the morning and before you go to bed at night is an easy method of establishing routine.
Make It Easy
Since brushing and flossing only take a few minutes, it’s not something one can easily dismiss because they’re too busy. But if the act of brushing and flossing seems difficult or uncomfortable, it may be because you’re making it harder than it has to be. When you understand the proper way to do something, that means the habit is all the more likely to stick. Think about it; when you gave up resolutions in the past, your reason for doing so was probably because it felt too difficult or unnatural to keep up. Preparation and comfort makes it possible to avoid downfall. Try these steps for comfortable brushing and flossing:
- Get a soft bristle toothbrush that’s easy to operate. Soft bristles are better for your tooth enamel and more comfortable, but they should be sturdy enough to do the job of removing plaque. If a thick rubber handle, arched neck or electric toothbrush is preferable for your grip, stick with a type that works best for you. The advantages of one type of toothbrush over another really depends on what best suits the brusher, and which you’re able to use with greatest ease. Remember to replace your brush every three months, after you’ve been sick, or if there is visible wear on the bristles.
- Get toothpaste you like. There are countless flavors and formulas available in the toothpaste aisle. Find a taste you enjoy, just be sure it contains fluoride and is ADA approved. An opaque white paste is best for those who are concerned with teeth staining. Toothpaste with potassium nitrate is great for individuals with sensitive teeth.
- Try a waxed dental floss. Waxed floss cuts down on a lot of the mechanical difficulty of getting the floss between your teeth. Flavored floss can make the process more pleasant for some people, but keep in mind that flavored dental floss is slightly thicker, which can make a difference when you have smaller spaces between your teeth or dental work.
- Try dental tape. Dental tape is thicker than regular dental floss, but patients with sensitive gums can find it more comfortable. It also covers more of the tooth’s surface, making the flossing process more thorough.
- A flossing aid or alternative is better than nothing at all. If you can’t get into the habit of flossing with traditional dental floss, or find it tough to grip or get around dental work, using a floss pick or dental brush is better than nothing at all. Start out with one of these flossing aids and make an effort to transition into proper flossing.
As you commit to daily brushing and flossing, remind yourself of the rewards. You’ll have fresh breath, fewer stains and plaque, and a cleaner feeling as you face the day and settle for rest. Your teeth with remain stronger and healthier year after year. You’ll protect yourself from periodontal infections that are costly to your health and your finances. You’ll also have a better experience when you come in for your checkup. Think of how great it will feel to experience all of these benefits, and when you’re asked if you brush and floss every day, you can honestly say yes!