New Year Resolution 2019 For My Mouth (Floss?)

» Posted by on Jan 14, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

Dear Dr. Merchant,

I am making my New Year’s Resolution list for 2019. Any small resolutions I can add to my list to keep my mouth healthy?

Signed, 

2019 Resolutions  

Dear 2019,

Happy New Year to you and your mouth! You are smart to add small manageable habits to your resolution list. Too often folks go all out and try to implement mega changes at the start of the year. Studies show that modest changes are the easiest and tend to have more staying power. One of the simplest and quickest changes you can make in your oral routine (if you haven’t already added it) is to floss every day. It takes under a minute and has long lasting benefits for both your oral and overall health. You may need to make a conscious effort to get the ball rolling at first, but it is an easy healthful commitment that just about anyone can adopt into their daily routine: 

Brush Twice, Floss Once

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), floss is a fundamental part of taking care of your mouth. Brushing alone cannot sufficiently do the job. Removing plaque that a toothbrush cannot reach is necessary because plaque buildup can lead to gum disease and cavities. There are literally hundreds of bacterial species that can live in plaque buildup. Not all of them are bad, but it is up to you to keep conditions in check so that the yucky ones don’t thrive. Flossing once a day has proven to disrupt the growth of plaque. The ADA recommends brushing twice a day for two minutes with a flouride toothpaste, cleaning between teeth with an interdental tool (such as floss), and regular dental visits.

21 Times or Bust?

It used to be thought that doing something for 21 times would develop into a habit. This theory was based on a book published in 1960 that suggested it took 21 days on average to create or stop habits. Since the book came out, studies have shown that it actually takes on average 2 months or more to turn an action into a regular part of your routine. Habits are an evolving process where you have to commit to the goal, not just make a mental note to change. Making small incremental improvements are much easier to commit to then making giant life-altering changes. Habits are hard to adjust. That is why creating valuable habits is such a good idea. Flossing once a day is a small incremental change that anyone is capable of incorporating into a daily routine. Missing a day here or there does not signify defeat. It’s an easy fix to get back on track, unlike other habits that require bigger effort like going to the gym or drinking a gallon of water a day.

New Year Resolutions can be daunting to commit to. Choosing ones that are simple will make it easier for you to stay the course and follow through. Daily flossing is recommended by the American Dental Association as an important part of your oral health routine. The mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body, therefore taking good care of your teeth and gums can help you manage the rest of your health as well. I addressed this in my recent blog, “Is There Really A Mouth-Body Connection?” Don’t get discouraged if you skip a day, just pick up where you left off the next day. Happy 2019 to you and your mouth!

Happy Oral Health!

Dr. Christopher D Merchant D.D.S.

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