Healthy Teeth – Where Do I Start?

Healthy_teethWe all know that healthy teeth are not created in an instant – they are the result of daily activities and decisions that shape our oral health habits. Many people struggle to initiate and maintain habits that will lead to healthy teeth, despite good intentions. The secrets to changing this situation are to understand how habits are formed and maintained, and to have a plan to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to encourage yourself to act in ways that benefit your mouth and gums!

How habits work

Charles Duhigg, author of the book “The Power of Habit,” has identified the sequence of cue – routine – reward as a pattern that seems to recur in the formation of many different habits (both good and bad). If you’re trying to establish a dental habit, research the cues and routines you might create, and experiment with different types of rewards you give yourself in order to to make that behavior stick.

Simple habits for healthy teeth

Here are suggestions for establishing three of the most important oral health habits: brushing, flossing and eating foods that support healthy teeth and gums.

1) Buy an electric/power toothbrush. Compared to a manual toothbrush, you may find a power toothbrush is more effective and easier to use for the two minutes per session that dentists recommend. For a reward, you can make your brushing time more pleasant by listening to a smartphone app that plays music for the length of your brushing session.

2) Choose an appealing way to floss. You don’t have to choose boring unflavored floss to clean between your teeth. Water flossers and air flossers are highly effective, too. And if you do enjoy traditional flossing, you can reward yourself with unusual floss flavors, such as coffee, waffle, or bacon!

3) Eat real food. Highly processed foods, especially those with lots of sugar in them, are bad for your teeth. Eating moderate amounts of lean protein, fruits and vegetables is your best bet for promoting dental as well as overall health. The main reward from eating this kind of food is that it is delicious!

“It is possible to modify your habits to ensure you will enjoy healthy teeth,” says Dr. Carol Ford, a Phoenix-based cosmetic dentist. “And attending your regularly scheduled dental checkups will help your dentist track the effects of your habit changes and help you make them even more effective.”



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