HCN News & Notes

Massachusetts Dental Society Suggests New Year’s Resolutions to Smile About

SOUTHBOROUGH — As 2019 draws to a close and Massachusetts residents think about resolutions for the New Year, the Massachusetts Dental Society suggests one resolution that will make everyone smile — better oral health.

“Getting healthy is often at the top of the list when it comes to popular New Year’s resolutions, but it’s important not to overlook what can be done to improve your oral health,” said Massachusetts Dental Society President Dr. Janis Moriarty. “Regular brushing, flossing, and visits to the dentist will help you maintain a healthier mouth, as well as an overall healthier you.”

Here are five ideas for resolutions that will help deliver a healthier smile in 2020:

• Visit the dentist regularly. Your teeth and gums hold important clues to other health issues. So, if you’re interested in maintaining good overall health as well as your smile, visit your dentist for a checkup and cleaning at least twice a year. An exam allows your dentist not only to help you maintain healthy teeth and gums, but also to be on the lookout for developments that may lead to future health problems, including oral cancer.

• Floss every day. In addition to brushing your teeth two times a day for two minutes, daily flossing will help remove the plaque that collects between teeth and reduce the likelihood of gum disease and tooth decay.

• Reduce your sugar consumption. Too many sweets doesn’t just wreak havoc on your waistline. Sugar is the ‘food’ for harmful oral bacteria that create acids that destroy tooth enamel and lead to cavities. To limit your sugar intake, avoid soft drinks, go easy on sugary juices, and limit carbs that break down into sugar. Instead, drink fluoridated water — which will help make your teeth more resistant to acid attacks that can cause cavities — and eat dairy and lean proteins that will help strengthen your teeth. Chewing fruits and veggies that are high in water and fiber also helps stimulate saliva production and wash away harmful acids and food particles.

• Stop biting your nails, chewing your pen, or chomping on ice. All of these habits increase the risk of chipping, cracking, or breaking your teeth. Nail biting can even lead to jaw dysfunction, since placing your jaw in a protruding position for long periods of time can place too much pressure on it.

• Stop any smoking or tobacco use. In addition to heart disease and lung cancer, smoking and tobacco products can cause a slew of oral-health problems, including bad breath and stained teeth, dulled sense of taste and smell, gum disease, and oral cancer. E-cigarettes also can have a significant impact on your oral health. The nicotine these products contain reduces blood flow, restricting the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the soft tissues of the mouth. This can cause the gums to recede and exacerbate periodontal diseases. Reduced blood circulation also inhibits the mouth’s natural ability to fight against bacteria, which can accelerate infection, decay, and other problems.