Here’s to another year of dental health

Every holiday comes with requirements. Valentine’s Day involves chocolates, Fourth of July fireworks, Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas presents. To properly celebrate New Year’s Eve requires making resolutions for the upcoming year. My recommendation is that your resolutions center around making you healthier for the new year.

Since research has found that overall health is related to oral health, I am providing guidelines for good oral health that you will find easy to keep.

The No. 1 resolution should be to maintain regular dental visits. If you don’t have a dentist, it’s time to find one you are comfortable talking to regarding your oral health. Maintaining regular dental visits for a cleaning and exam eliminates problems and saves money over the long run. While at the dentist, make sure you request X-¬≠rays at least every two years. Many dental problems exist between the teeth that only X-ray can find.

It is not unusual for my patients who maintain regular prophy and exams to go many years without a dental problem. When I do find a problem, most times it is just beginning. In dentistry, untreated little problems usually result in bigger problems, so don’t postpone your dentist’s recommended treatment.

Effective home care is important for good oral health, so make a resolution to do it properly. Begin by taking a dry toothbrush and adding a small amount of toothpaste. In addition to brushing the teeth, work the toothpaste down into the gums around the neck of the teeth. After you have cleaned all four quarters of your mouth put the brush down and pick up the floss.

Don’t rinse out the toothpaste, just spit out any excess saliva. You may need to add a little toothpaste onto your finger and rub it around the area you plan on flossing. That is correct; toothpaste working with floss is more effective than floss alone, and since it’s not possible to put the paste on the floss, you need to put a little around the teeth.

My final resolution is the easiest. Chewing xylitol gum for a least 10 minutes a day or sucking on xylitol sweetened hard candy was found effective at reducing the incidence of tooth decay. So make a resolution to replace processed sugar with xylitol in your diet whenever possible.

Happy New Year. I look forward to another year of responding to your dental questions.

About the Author

John Reitz Dr. John Reitz is a weekly contributor to The Reading Eagle, Reading, Pennsylvania's daily newspaper. Reitz Dental is located in Wyomissing, PA and provides family dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and is a certified Invisalign dentist.