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Six Ways to Improve Your Oral Health—and General Well-Being—For the New Year

It’s official: Resolutions are hard to keep. Researchers at the University of Scranton have found that only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions end up following through on them. You, of course, are among that motivated, high-will-power group of achievers, and you’re well on your way to your goal of going to the gym, eating healthy, and meditating every morning. In your eagerness to improve your life, though, you may have forgotten one important aspect of your well-being: Your mouth.

Maintaining good oral hygiene may not seem as crucial as giving up smoking--or sound as sexy as exercising your way to a bikini bod or six-pack abs. But your overall health and the health of your mouth are closely related (plus, a dazzling smile and fresh breath are pretty sexy, too).

Here are six resolutions for taking care of your mouth this winter--along with reasons you’ll want to keep them and tips to help make it easy.

Up your brushing and flossing game—There are many reasons to brush and floss every day, from preventing cavities and keeping your teeth from falling out to, possibly, preventing heart disease. But while most Americans manage to brush their teeth twice a day, when it comes to flossing, not so much. According to a recent study, fewer than a third of adults floss regularly, and just as many don’t floss at all. This means that most of us are not getting our cleanest teeth and gums. Colgate toothpaste credits flossing with removing up to 40% of the bacteria and plaque from our teeth, and the company has made a how-to video demonstrating the literal ins-and-outs of flossing. While you’re at it, why not take your brushing to the next level with the tips in this comprehensive guide.

Replace your toothbrush every three months—The American Dental Association has long recommended replacing brush heads every three months. Not surprisingly, research shows that 75% of us don’t bother to replace them as regularly as we should. Worn toothbrush bristles are unable to clean teeth properly and can damage gums, not to mention act as a petri dish for bad germs. One solution: Quip is an electric toothbrush that offers a subscription service providing automatic delivery of fresh brush heads every three months. It’s simple, kind of cool (it’s been described as the Warby Parker of toothbrushes), and it gets rave reviews from dentists and users.

Schedule a check-up and cleaning—For most of us, the prospect of a visit to the dentist is up there with filing income taxes and shopping for health insurance. But having a professional cleaning done by a dental hygienist every six months should be a no-brainer: It will remove the plaque and tartar that builds up on the surface of tooth enamel and in the spaces between gum and tooth (and leave you feeling virtuous). The dentist will then x-ray your teeth and examine them for cavities and gum disease. To make it easy (and affordable), look into the  “new patient special” from Guerra Dental in Colorado Springs and book your appointment online. 

Sleep better—Obstructive sleep apnea is a medical condition that restricts airflow during sleep, often causing the sufferer to gasp for breath hundreds of times during the night, leaving him or her sleep-deprived and at higher risk for stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure. Steps you can take to relieve sleep apnea include losing weight and, in extreme cases, sleeping hooked up to a CPAP machine. You can also get relief for yourself or the snorer in your life with a sleep apnea mouth guard device. They are available through both doctors and dentists.

Fight back against flu—Colorado is one of 36 states reporting widespread cases of flu this winter according to the Centers for Disease Control. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so getting vaccinated is crucial, but keeping your mouth clean and free of excess bacteria helps, too. Dr. Steven Lin, author of “The Dental Diet” and a Tedx speaker, has researched the connection between oral health and overall well-being and recommends brushing and flossing more often as a way to help patients fight off the flu. If you do get sick, make sure to keep well-hydrated to help your body fight off germs and prevent dry mouth, which can put you at risk for developing tooth decay and gum disease.

Flash that smile—As long as you’re working out and eating right to get yourself in peak shape for summer, why not make sure you have a smile to match? Straight teeth can now be yours in a matter of months not years. Six Month Smiles® is a new orthodontic technique utilizing clear braces to straighten and align teeth quickly. With a network of dentists across the country, this technology is available in Colorado Springs at Guerra Dental. While you’re there, take advantage of the special $99 “White Teeth for Life” offer and never pay for tooth whitening again.

 
Healthy Families

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