7 ways to improve your family’s dental health in the new year


PHOTO CREDIT: Statepoint Media

The New Year is the perfect time to hit “reset” and start over with fresh dental habits that can help improve your health.

“As we move into the new year, so many of us are looking at our health and wellness through a new lens,” said Ruchi Sahota, American Dental Association spokesperson. “Your oral and overall health are connected — and even small improvements in your oral health routine can have big payoffs in your overall well-being.”

To help you usher in 2021, the ADA offers seven recommendations for improving your family’s dental health routine:

1 Brush twice per day for two minutes each time using fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush. Place the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Gently move the brush back and forth in tooth-wide strokes. Brush the outer, inner and chewing surfaces of the teeth. To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make up-and-down strokes.

2 Clean between teeth daily using only interdental cleaners, such as floss or water flossers, to reduce the risk of cavities and gum disease.

3 Eat a nutritious diet. Sugary foods and snacks can lead to tooth decay. Calcium- and phosphorous-rich foods protect and strengthen tooth enamel. Fruits and vegetables also are good choices for a healthy smile since they have high water and fiber content, which help clean teeth.

4 Schedule regular dental visits for prevention and treatment of oral disease.

5 Look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Every product carrying the Seal has been evaluated by experts to be safe and effective. To earn the Seal, companies often are asked to meet higher standards than what’s required by law. Look for specific Seal bullets on the back of every Seal product package to find out how they can help keep your mouth healthy.

6 Think twice if you’re considering DIY dental treatments. Some such fads, like oil pulling, are not effective. Others, such as whitening with charcoal, could even cause damage. Talk with your dentist to learn about the potential risks and benefits of each treatment.

“A dentist’s office is a safe place where a doctor is ensuring you’re getting quality care that will actually treat the root of your problem,” Sahota said.

7 Ditch bad habits that can harm oral health, like nail-biting, clenching your jaw, chewing ice and using your teeth as a stand-in for tools like scissors.

For more dental health tips and resources, visit MouthHealthy.org. You can find a dentist near you by visiting FindaDentist.ada.org.

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