Monday, January 6, 2014

A Resolution to Smile About

As 2013 comes to a close and we start making our New Year’s resolutions for 2014, getting healthy seems to be at the top of everyone’s list.

But being healthy isn’t just about working out and eating a nutritious diet; good oral health is imperative to overall health according to the US Surgeon General.

The New Year is the perfect time to start practicing good oral habits that will last a lifetime: Brush 2 minutes, 2 times a day, every day.

Prevention helps you maintain good oral health and the single most important thing that you can do to protect your teeth is to brush for two minutes, twice a day, every day. And floss too.

It’s equally as important to make sure this a daily routine for your children as well.

Here are some brushing tips for all ages:

Babies to 2 years: Gently wipe the baby’s teeth with a clean damp washcloth. For kids under age 2, use a soft toothbrush and a little water; no toothpaste is necessary. Once teeth are cleaned at bedtime, babies should drink only plain water (no juice, milk or soda).

Children, 2 years to 6 years: Help your children brush their teeth. Hold the toothbrush with them and show them how to clean every tooth surface and to gently brush their tongue to remove germs and freshen breath. Use a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste and teach your child to spit out the toothpaste when they’re done Check out this video to for more tips on teaching children how to brush their teeth.

Children, 6 years to thirteen: Once children know how to brush, let them do so on their own, but supervise to make sure all teeth get cleaned. The goal is to spend 2 minutes to be sure they brush every tooth – the front, back, chewing surfaces and sides. Teach your children how to floss between teeth and make this part of their nighttime routine.

Teens and Adults: We are all busy with work, school, sports, family – but that is no excuse for not brushing. Clean your teeth gently but thoroughly for a full 2 minutes before you head off for the day (work or school) and finish the day by brushing to remove leftover food in your mouth and floss between your teeth. Your goal is to remove food that will decay, creating acids that will attack the tooth’s enamel, and also to remove plaque. Plaque is the sticky film of germs that forms on teeth and gums after eating. If it’s  not removed by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, plaque can lead to cavities.

And remember this: Simple, repetitive tasks will become habit in just 21 days. Start on January 1 and make it your goal to brush 2 minutes, twice a day, every day. You can do this!

Finally, think about when you last saw an oral health professional. If you haven’t done so in the last six to 12 months, now is a good time to schedule your next visit. Dental disease (cavities and gum disease) is preventable.  

DentaQuest will be tweeting encouragement and reminders all month long. Follow us at @dentaquest.