Creating habits to improve your dental health

At least 30% of Americans don’t brush before bed and a third of Americans skip flossing all together! If you’re guilty of mouth misconduct, it’s not too late to reverse the cycle. Here are some scientific strategies to help you form healthy habits:

Set a cue. A cue acts as a trigger that tells your brain to begin a routine. You can try using part of your bedtime routine as a cue. For example, washing your face can be the cue to brush and floss. The cue you create will begin to automatically trigger the action you want to form, and continued performance will eventually create a habit.

Reward yourself. Starting a new habit works best when you get something out of it. You may begin to crave that squeaky clean feeling your teeth experience after your dental routine. This will motivate you to continue the frequency of your healthy habits.

Break bad habits. While you’re starting healthy habits, take time to cut out the bad ones, like teeth grinding or nail biting.

In order to stop, you have to pay attention! Tracking behaviors over time will help you find themes. Keeping a journal to jot down what was happening when you began the behavior, or using an app like the Habit Tracker will help you get on the right track.

Keep your smile in shape, it can benefit your overall health, too. Creating habits on dental hygiene is really important. Your brushing habits have to change too, as you probably are doing it wrong. This is a basic guide to brushing your teeth:

Clean all surfaces of the teeth. Brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces and the chewing surfaces. Concentrate harder on the inner surfaces – studies show they’re often neglected.

Brush your tongue. This will remove other bacteria and help freshen your breath.

Sing a simple melody. Brush at least 2 times a day for 2 minutes.

That’s how easy it is. However, as easy as it is to keep good oral health habits, especially when it comes to brushing your teeth, there’s more things that you’re probably doing wrong. Thankfully, where there are mistakes, there are ways to fix them. Many dental problems come from not doing a simple task like brushing your teeth properly, so a simple guide of things you should avoid doing while brushing your teeth might come in handy to avoid an unnecessary visit to the dentist, or worse, toothache or gum disease.

Not brushing long enough. Most people brush their teeth for only a minute, but experts say you need at least two minutes to eliminate the entire bacterial film in your mouth. Nowadays many electric toothbrushes are timed. To ensure you are getting to two minutes, time yourself. You may need two cycles of the automatic setting.

Being right winged. Many dentists have seen that right handed people tend to clean the right side of their teeth better and left handers the left side. Make sure you are giving equal attention to both sides no matter which hand you brush with. And don’t ignore the gum line; that’s where the most tartar and plaque buildup.

Using a side to side motion. A side to side or sawing motion can actually hurt the enamel of your teeth. Instead use a circular motion.

Being a bully. Be gentle but energetic while brushing. Having a heavy hand can again damage the enamel or irritate your gums.

Too much white. Whitening toothpastes can do a great job of reducing stains on the teeth. However, they can be harsh on the enamel of your teeth since they contain harsh and abrasive ingredients. Instead of only whitening toothpaste, set yourself a schedule. Use whitening in the morning and regular at night, or use the whitening toothpaste for two weeks and then the regular for two weeks.

With these helpful tips, we know you’ll be better equipped to tackle that plaque and protect your teeth!

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