Dental Resolutions for the New Year
The first week of the new year is now behind us, and we bet you’re all thinking about your New Year’s resolutions. You may be considering resolving to finally get that promotion, put more money into savings, or to lose some holiday pounds. In addition to that, many people commit to having a healthier lifestyle in the new year. If improving your dental health is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, we have Dr. Liangkai Weng and Dr. Nina Santos from Dental Designs of White Marsh here to do a Q&A which will go a long way toward giving you a brighter, healthier smile in the coming year: Question: How important is setting up a brushing and flossing routine? Dr. Weng: The most important part of any dental routine is consistency, and this year, resolve to set up a daily routine that you can follow without fail. It’s quite simple, cavities thrive in environments where there is a continual presence of sugar. Especially at night, when your mouth gets dry, the environment is perfect for bacteria to wreak havoc on your teeth. Make an effort to brush at least twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. Flossing should be done preferably after each meal, but at least once per day. If you can only floss once, make it in the evening before you sleep. Any adjuncts like mouthwash, air flossers, WaterPik’s, should only be considered as ancillary tools in your dental arsenal, and not a replacement for old fashioned brushing and flossing. Question: What about making healthy food and drink choices? Dr. Santos: Even the best dental routines outlined above will only go so far if you’re diet isn’t ‘tooth friendly’. We believe in a balanced diet that doesn’t exclude anything, but with that said there are definitely some things to keep in moderation. Sticky desserts and candy in general can cause cavities, but if eaten in moderation and not continually through the day, can be just fine. Bacteria creates acid, which causes cavities, whenever they have a source of sugar to break down. Make sure to limit sweets to once or twice a day, preferably with meals, to minimize the cavity causing effects. Drinks can be equally, if not more, destructive to the teeth. My recommendation would be to avoid all carbonated sodas and especially energy drinks. These drinks are not only filled with sugar, but also have been shown to have a level of acidity near that of battery acid! Avoiding these drinks altogether will not only save your teeth, but save your overall health. Question: How about quitting smoking and using tobacco products? Dr. Weng: This one is a no-brainer. Nicotine and tobacco are not only linked with many serious illnesses such as cancer, lung disease and heart disease, it is a leading cause of periodontal disease. Having periodontal disease is a condition in which continuous bacterial inflammation in your mouth causes a loss of bone, the supporting structure of your teeth. New research in the last decade has also linked periodontal disease to a variety of systemic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and numerous other conditions. So as you can see, smoking or using tobacco products has far reaching and seriously detrimental effects on your body. Question: Lastly, what about checking in with the dentist regularly? Dr. Santos: Glad you asked! We recommend visiting the dentist twice a year for a routine hygiene appointment which may involve x-rays, periodontal charting, a cleaning, and a periodic exam from the dentist. It is the best way to catch dental disease before it progresses, and allows us to fix problems while they are small, or prevent them altogether. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.