We all resolve to give up bad habits when we get a fresh start each January. For some, it’s quitting smoking–while others vow to exercise more or be better organized. Unfortunately, most people set unrealistically high or vague goals and wind up falling back into bad habits before the month is even over!

Does that mean we should give up? Of course not! There’s always room for improvement, and realistic goals don’t have to be major lifestyle changes or broad catch-alls. Here are five small good habits that we should all try to incorporate into our lives. Try to work these goals into your 2018 lifestyle modifications; your body (and teeth) will thank you!

Ready to get your oral health on track in 2018? Call Life Smile Dental Care to visit our Hazelwood and Kirkwood, MO dental practice. Call us at 314-433-5489 for our Kirkwood office and 314-328-0408 for our Hazelwood office.

1. Don’t Let Germs Linger on Commonly Used Surfaces

If you use the same water bottle for several days in a row, you could be exposing yourself to unchecked bacterial growth. Take the time to clean and sanitize your water bottles, coffee mugs, kitchen sponges and hand towels regularly, and you may get sick less. Wipe down your keyboard regularly and have your children wash their hands every day when they get home from school. Speaking of germs, did you know that bacteria can linger on toothbrushes and spread to other family member’s toothbrushes when they are stored together? Taking just a few minutes to sanitize toothbrushes with an antiseptic cleaner can prevent the spread of illness and help you keep your mouth cleaner, as well.

2. Breathe Through the Nose

Did you know that nasal breathing is better for your body than breathing through the mouth? If you have a tendency toward nasal inflammation (allergies and colds, for example) you do yourself a disservice when you get into the habit of breathing through the mouth. Even during strenuous exercise, nasal breathing is best. You may feel like you just have to open your mouth to get more air into your lungs, but nose breathing actually gives you more oxygen. Why? Because the nasal passage is narrower, it gives you a long slow exhale that lets the lungs absorb more oxygen.

This is one reason why snoring is bad for your body. If you snore, an oral appliance from your dentist may help you open up the nasal airway passage and get better blood oxygenation while you sleep. Mouth breathing can also dry out your teeth, which isn’t good, as saliva is your body’s best way of neutralizing and rinsing away bacterial excretions.

3. Reduce Refined Sugars and Flours from Your Diet

You probably know that sugary sweets and sodas are bad for your teeth, but did you know that processed white flour is equally harmful. Choosing whole grain bread over white bread is better for your body and teeth–and helps you stay full longer.

4. Avoid Excessive Amounts of Alcohol

The benefits of moderate drinking are pretty well established, but going beyond “moderate” and into “excessive” will cancel out all those benefits to your health. Not only is heavy drinking bad for your liver (and waistline), it also puts you at greater risk of developing oral cancers. Oral cancer is often caused by oral irritants, which include tobacco products, chronic oral lesions, and excessive amounts of alcohol. Stick with 1-2 drinks a day as your maximum, and your whole body will thank you!

5. Take Advantage of Preventive Health Visits

Getting an annual check-up at the doctor and dentist are excellent ways to make sure you stay in good health. If it’s been years since you’ve been to the doctor or dentist, get yourself back on track this year. You could be developing a silent health problem, such as high blood pressure, and have no obvious symptoms to alert you until it becomes severe. Tooth decay and gum disease can also develop without obvious symptoms—and both are most treatable in their earliest stages.

6. Floss Every Day

Not only does flossing prevent tooth decay and gum disease, but it can also keep your heart healthy. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and several other serious medical conditions. Many believe that when the gums bleed (a symptom of gum disease) it creates a pathway into the body for harmful mouth bacteria streptococcus mutans. Prevent all those conditions with a once-daily thorough flossing.

For optimal oral health, visit your dentist twice a year for an exam and professional cleaning. Kirkwood and Hazelwood, MO dental office Life Smile Dental Care can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy in 2018, so you can have the best oral health of your life.

Visit our dental office to meet Drs. Blake Setien, Brent Setien, and Kyle Shapiro. We look forward to meeting you. Call us at 314-433-5489 for our Kirkwood office and 314-328-0408 for our Hazelwood office.