Healthy Teeth Resolutions

Dental_careIt’s that time of year: with 2015 right around the corner, many folks are announcing their New Year’s resolutions. Improving your oral health is always a great area on which to focus your goal-setting energy. Here are four dental care resolutions that can protect your teeth and improve the attractiveness of your smile.

1) Eat and drink to keep the saliva flowing. Dry mouth can be a problem for many people, particularly older adults who may take medications that reduce saliva flow. Saliva helps wash away plaque causing bacteria, and helps neutralize acid in the mouth. To keep your saliva flowing, drink plenty of water and reduce the number of beverages you drink that contain caffeine. It also helps to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet.

2) Chew sugarless gum with xylitol. If you like to chew gum, you can make it a healthy habit by switching to a brand that contains xylitol, a sugar alcohol that has been shown to reduce the bacteria most commonly found to cause tooth decay.

3) Use a mouth guard for active sports. If you participate in an exercise activity or play a sport where contact with another person or hard surface is a possibility, you will want to get a mouth guard. The Academy of General Dentistry estimates that mouth guards prevent 200,000 injuries per year. You can buy off-the-shelf models or “boil and bite” versions, but custom-made mouth guards fabricated by your dentist offer the best fit, comfort and protection.

4) Ask your dentist if it is time for you to have a “dental physical.” Regular checkups at the dentist are an important part of dental care, but sometimes it is a good idea to have a more thorough examination. A dental physical will extend beyond a simple inspection of your teeth and gums and a polishing of your teeth and may include taking a set of detailed X-rays, examining your tongue, checking your bite for any problems with malocclusion, doing an oral cancer examination, and carefully evaluating your existing dental restorations. This in-depth appointment can reveal deeper health issues involving your mouth.

“Making a commitment to take better care of your teeth and gums is a fantastic goal for 2015,” says Dr. Carol Ford, a cosmetic dentist in practice in central Phoenix. “Improving your dental care habits can pay off in terms of better health, a more attractive appearance and increased self-confidence.”

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