Healthy Smiles by Rita Tempel, DDS – This article was originally published in the Gettysburg Times, January 18, 2017
If your New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier, or improve your health in any way—guess what? Chances are, you will also be improving your dental health!
Your overall health is affected by your dental health and vice versa. If you have established good dental habits, then you have a good foundation for your New Year’s Resolutions and additional good healthy habits. Let’s review recommended dental habits:
- Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day, for at least two minutes each time.
- Replace your toothbrush every season (at least four times a year).
- Flossing at least once a day is also the American Dental Association’s (ADA) recommendation.
- See your dentist at least twice a year for checkups and professional cleanings.
Here’s how your dental health will improve as a result of some of the most common New Year’s Resolutions, according to the ADA:
- If you resolve to drink more water and cut back on soda: One in four Americans consume at least 200 calories a day from sugary drinks like soda. Most of those calories come from sugar. Water however contains zero calories or sugar and helps keep cavities away by washing leftover food particles away. Water also prevents your mouth from becoming dry. All of these factors create healthier conditions in your mouth and lessen the risk of cavities.
- Exercising goes hand-in-hand with drinking water: Staying hydrated is essential to healthy physical activity. Instead of reaching for sugary drinks like soda, iced tea, or sports drinks, reach for water instead. The ADA states that “water is the best beverage for your body and teeth” for all of the reasons stated above.
- Resolving to eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer processed “junk foods:” Fruits and veggies are high in both water and fiber, which help to balance their natural sugars and to clean your teeth. The high water content also helps stimulate saliva production, which washes harmful acids and food particles away from your teeth. Once again, this is a choice that lessens your risk of cavities.
- If you resolve to cut back on snacking in 2017: Frequent snacking may increase your risk of developing tooth decay, which is caused by plaque—a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth. The bacteria convert sugar and starch (that may remain in the mouth after you eat) into acid that attacks your tooth enamel. The longer the sugars remain in your mouth, the longer the acids attack your teeth. Cutting back on snacks, or replacing them with vitamin-rich fruits, vegetables, or water, will boost both your oral and overall health.
One huge side effect to all of these resolutions and health practices: You will undoubtedly feel better and smile more! The simple act of smiling triggers additional health benefits in your brain and body. Endorphins are releasing, acting as a natural pain reliever, relaxing you, easing stress away, lowering your heart rate and blood pressure. Here’s to a healthy 2017!
Dr. Rita Tempel is the owner and founder of Gettysburg Smiles/Dr. Rita Tempel & Associates, a family dental practice located at 2018 York Road (Route 30 East), Gettysburg. She is a Sustaining Member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry as well as a Preferred Provider for Invisalign. For more information, see GettysburgSmiles.com or contact Dr. Tempel at 717-339-0033.