In light of the upcoming New Year, Elias Prosthodontics would like to share several tips on how you can ring in 2017 and every year there after, with a great smile and overall oral health success. Here are a few New Year's dental resolutions that are easy to stick with and incorporate into your every day life, while maintaining a bright smile and healthy teeth and gums. Provided below are some oral health-related resolutions that will fit into even the busiest of lifestyles.

    Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes.  Surprisingly enough, many individuals only brush their teeth once a day and it is usually before bed time.  It is super important to brush at least twice a day, preferably morning and night.  Your saliva decreases as you sleep and saliva is mother natures antibacterial for the mouth.  Therefore, brushing in the morning helps to combat any harmful bacteria that may have attached itself to the enamel of the teeth.  Brushing before bedtime is extremely important because it removes harmful plaque, food and bacteria that may have accumulated throughout the day.  However, practicing the above alone is not enough.  It is important to time your brushing as well.  According to the American Dental Association, the recommended time to properly brush your teeth is 2 minutes.  It is also super important to use a proper brushing technique as well.  You will want to avoid brushing too aggressively as this may damage the enamel and the gums.  Brushing in a circular motion is also recommended as well as using a soft bristle toothbrush so that you do not damage the enamel or the gums.

    Floss daily in addition to regular brushing.  If you are not already practicing flossing, this is a must for the New Year.  Flossing is one of the most important regimens used to combat harmful bacteria that causes decay and gum disease.  However, it is the most neglected. Flossing is extremely important due to the fact that brushing alone cannot get in between the teeth.  Therefore, food and bacteria remains and deteriorates both the enamel and the gum tissue.  There is a proper technique to flossing as well.  Make sure to go along the sides of teeth and up and down to remove all food particles.

     Remember to brush your tongue as well.  You may not know this dental fact, but the majority of bacteria in your mouth sits on your tongue and is the leading cause of bad breath.  Incorporate brushing your tongue during your twice a day brushing and flossing regimen.  It is recommended to start from the back of the tongue and work your way forward. You will want to brush gently and move your toothbrush from one side of your tongue to the other.  This can be done using your toothbrush or a tongue scraper and make sure to rinse with water after.

    Buy a new toothbrush.  It is always a great idea to replace your toothbrush about every 3 to 4 months.  When purchasing your new brush, make sure that the bristles are soft.  Many people are not aware that hard bristle toothbrushes can cause damage to both the enamel and the gums and actually leave the teeth more susceptible to decay.  You can always soak your new toothbrush in hot water which will help to immediately soften the bristles.

     Start incorporating plenty of water into your every day diet.  Not only is it great for overall health, but it is equally as important for your dental health.  According to the American Dental Association, sipping water throughout the day will help to wash away harmful bacteria that may have attached itself to the teeth.  It will also help to increase your saliva flow and, as stated previously, saliva is mother natures antibacterial for the mouth.  The recommended amount of water you should consume will depend on how much you weigh.  Divide that number in half and the number you get is the recommended ounces you should consume per day.

    Kick the smoking habit.  This is extremely important for your overall health in general.  This applies heavily to your oral health too.  Smoking doubles your chances of getting gum disease and oral cancer, as well as many other health issues.  Choosing a date to give up the habit and getting rid of all tobacco products from your home, will increase your success rate.  Enlisting a great support group thru friends, family and co-workers, will also be extremely helpful in keeping you accountable and successful.  Find a healthy activity to engage in when you start to have cravings.  It is well known that these will come along with the process of you choosing to give up smoking.  However, finding a healthy activity to engage in during your cravings, will help to take your mind off the old, unhealthy habit and achieve new, healthy goals along the way.  Communicating with your family physician about your decision to give up smoking , may also be extremely helpful as there are new medications on the market for this very purpose.

    Complete all of your restorative dental work.  With the new year comes new insurance benefits.  Typically, insurance benefits and maximums renew in January.  Therefore, this may be a great time to complete all of your deferred dental work such as crowns, implants and filings.  This is also a great time to invest in your overall oral hygiene and maintain a consistent dental regimen per your dentist and hygienist recommendations.  Communication with both your dentist and hygienist is the key in overall success and will help to give you a guideline and point of reference on where to begin and where to end.  For many, they see dental work as merely esthetically pleasing. In actuality, keeping up with your oral hygiene is super important for your overall health too, as there have been several health issues link to periodontal (gum) disease such as heart disease, liver disease, alzheimer's and many other health related conditions. 

     Improve your smile.  For many, that have contemplated braces.  The new year would be a great time to achieve the look you have always wanted and with technology, there are several different options.  By communicating with your dentist, he or she will be able to give you the right choice to optimize your goal.  Most individuals think that by correcting their smile, it is only esthetically pleasing.  However, correcting misaligned teeth will help in your overall dental health.  When teeth are crowded or over lapping one another, it is almost impossible to brush all the surfaces of the teeth.  It also prohibits the ability to floss correctly as they obstruct the floss from getting in between the teeth and under the gums.  

    Resolve to choose healthier beverages and snacks.  As the saying goes "you are what you eat" and this not only pertains to your overall health, but yet again to your overall oral health.  By consuming frequent snacks that contain carbohydrates and acids, this contributes to tooth decay.  Therefore, it is extremely important to brush after snacking.  By chewing sugar-less gum, it will help to reduce your snacking and also remove harmful bacteria that has attached itself to the tooth.  The Xylitol in the sugarless gum, helps to neutralize acids and reduce cavity -causing bacteria and plaque build up.

    Start the year off bright.  During the holiday festivities, indulging in tobacco, wine, coffee and tea can definitely have an effect on those pearly whites.  Anything that will stain a white t-shirt, will stain your teeth. Consult with your dentist and hygienist on the best option for you to brighten and whiten. Many offices offer in office whitening, and the results can be immediate.  As with everything else, every individual is different and results will vary accordingly.