It can be difficult to remember to brush after every meal and floss every night, yet the reasons to take good care of our teeth are countless. Poor dental hygiene can lead to many problems that can be costly to treat like cavities, gum disease and discolored teeth. A healthy mouth also means a healthy and bright smile. The benefits of a good dental hygiene routine far outweigh the effort involved. Here are some tips on building better oral habits!
30 Days is Key
Did you know that studies show that it takes 30 days to build a habit? It may feel impossible that all the things you endeavor to do could simply feel natural and become an easy daily routine, but simple repetition of an action or task over time creates grooves in your brain so that it can almost seem to run on automatic. This works for both negative and positive habits, so the key is to keep practicing your desired habits for at least 30 days!
You’re Better at Building Habits Than You Know
You may have thought in the past that you weren’t very good at building habits, but we all build habits every day without knowing it. Have you ever been driving home from work and not known how you arrived home already, not been able to remember the last few landmarks or turns? That is because you have done this so many times that your brain has developed the grooves to make its processes more and more efficient.
The science behind how our minds develop habits is good news because it means that habits are not outside our control, we get to choose our habits to be the things we want to do, too. You’re better at building habits than you might have thought, so why not start building better oral habits? Here are some tips.
Remember, Don’t Forget!
The main thing we need when starting out with new habits is reminders. Set up some cues or reminders to help you remember to brush your teeth after meals, before bed, and to include all the habits you’d like to develop such as brushing for a full 2 minutes and using floss and mouthwash once a day.
Ideas for reminders can range from putting a note in your phone’s to-do list or calendar, setting an alarm on your clock, posting some sticky notes on the mirror in the bathroom, or wearing a reminder such as a bracelet to cue your brain to the task when you see it.
There are even more creative options, too, such as giving your cat or dog a treat at a certain time every day when you are also supposed to complete a task. Once they get used to this, they won’t fail to remind you if you forget!
It’s All About the Tools
If you’ve gotten discouraged in the past about building better oral habits, don’t lose heart! You may have just not had the right tools to build the habits you wanted to. There are options available that might make things easier like flossing picks and interdental brushes to use instead of regular dental floss. Better tools with advanced features such as an electric toothbrush with a brushing app for your phone can also help to ensure your habits really are improving, and give you daily feedback and tips to help!
Talking to your dentist at your next exam may be helpful as well for making a plan towards building better oral habits in the future. An exam and cleaning can be a great launching pad to help you get started with your new commitment because you will want to maintain the clean, smooth feeling of your freshly polished teeth.
Today is a new day, a great opportunity to build the habits you choose!
Call our Woodward Dental Office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.