By the end of January, plenty of us have already slacked on our New Year's resolutions -- but we're not saying that to bring you down. We actually mean the opposite: Just because you haven't made it to the gym or are still spending a little too much on takeout doesn't mean you can't recommit to your goals.
While you're at it -- have you made any resolutions about your dental health this year? If not, now's the time to do it. Here are five habits to break in 2017 for your best smile yet.
Tobacco use. Whether you smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco, this is a habit to quit ASAP in 2017. Tobacco causes a slew of oral hygiene issues, from the cosmetic (discoloration) to the structural -- all the way from tooth decay to chronic gum disease to oral cancer.
Brushing too hard. The harder you brush, the cleaner your teeth, the better your oral health -- right? No, not exactly. While regular brushing is essential, brushing too vigorously or with a hard toothbrush can erode your gums and enamel over time. Clean your teeth and keep them safe by using a soft-bristled brush to gently massage your teeth in a circular motion.
Snacking. We know this is a tough one. The temptation to snack is everywhere, from the office vending machine to the cookie aisle at the grocery store. But snacking -- especially on high-carb, high-fat or sugary foods -- leaves food residue on your teeth that encourages the growth of bacteria and the production of plaque, which in turn can lead to tooth decay. If you do snack throughout the day, choose wholesome foods like veggies and grains.
Chewing ice, nails, etc. As bad habits go, nail-biting and ice-chewing are fairly common and might seem innocuous, health-wise, but they're anything but. Repeatedly subjecting your teeth to stress and pressure in the form of habitually chewing on hard substances can wear away at your teeth over time -- sometimes causing them to crack or break. And forget about using your teeth to open packaging or, heaven forbid, a beer bottle. If you don't fancy a trip to your local emergency family dentistry practice near Seaside Heights, NJ, this year, keep anything that isn't food or a toothbrush out of your mouth.
Skipping your dental care routine. It's 11:30 PM. After a long day of work and errands, you wind down with some TV and a glass of wine. You're dead tired -- why bother brushing and flossing? You'll do it in the morning anyway. But wait -- when this pattern of thinking becomes a nightly habit, you're setting yourself up for tooth decay, pain and gum infections. Brush and floss twice daily, at minimum, no matter how tired you are. Your teeth will thank you!
One last thing: Have you scheduled your biannual dental exam and cleaning this year? If not, give our affordable dentists near Seaside Heights, NJ, a call. If you're a first-time patient, your exam is only $69. Turn good oral health into your best habit this year -- you'll be glad you did.