Almost everyone makes at least one New Year’s resolution as a way of bettering themselves and making positive changes in their lives. If you haven’t decided on a New Year’s resolution yet, you should consider committing to a dental-related goal. Here are five healthy dental habits that you can work on in 2018:

1. Reduce your sugar intake.

Sugar is the main factor in the formation of cavities, so reducing your sugar intake is one of the best ways to lower your risk. The bacteria in your mouth consumes the sugar you eat and turns it into plaque, and foods and drinks with lots of sugar speed up the process. You don’t need to completely eliminate sugar from your diet to keep your teeth healthy, but be mindful of how much you consume. Opt for sugar-free options when possible, and try replacing soda or energy drinks with water.

2. Brush and floss better.

You may brush your teeth twice a day, but there might be room for improvement in your brushing technique. You should hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums and gently move it back and forth in short strokes. Spend about 30 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth or two minutes in total. Use a soft-bristled brush that allows you to reach all areas of your mouth, and replace it every three or four months.

Flossing daily is also a great New Year’s resolution. Your gums are just as important as your teeth, and flossing protects your gums. Floss removes plaque and bacteria that your toothbrush can’t reach, so you should floss every night. Use a zigzag motion to guide the floss between your teeth, and wrap the floss around your tooth. Then, slide the floss up and down on the surface of your tooth to remove all the plaque, bacteria, and food debris.

3. Drink more water.

There are many health benefits of drinking water, including healthier teeth. Water rinses your mouth and teeth, removing sugar and food particles. It doesn’t replace brushing and flossing, but drinking water right after eating is a great way to keep your teeth clean and healthy.

4. Quit tobacco use.

Smoking and smokeless tobacco both have a terrible effect on your teeth. The film they leave on your teeth is hard to brush off and can leave permanent stains. Tobacco use also increases your risk of gum disease, which is the most common cause of tooth loss. Even if you brush and floss regularly and take great care of your teeth, tobacco use can cause serious dental issues. In the new year, try to limit your tobacco use as much as possible, and it won’t be long before you see improvements in your dental health.

5. See your dentist.

You should visit your Houston dentist at least once per year for a cleaning and checkup. If you’re overdue for an appointment, make it a goal to schedule a checkup in 2018. Your Houston dentist will clean your teeth more thoroughly than you can at home and will check for signs of tooth decay, gum disease, or other dental issues. Detecting these problems early will save you from a lot of pain and inconvenience, so it’s important to visit your dentist regularly.

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