Now that we’re most of the way through January, you may be taking stock of your progress with your New Year’s resolutions, or even considering starting a resolution a little bit late. If you’ve stumbled a little bit (or a lot) in your quest to start afresh, you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. In fact, according to at least one report, as many as 80 percent of all New Year’s resolutions fail within the first month. Despite the fact that New Year’s resolutions are generally efforts at making your life better, it’s really difficult to change old habits for better ones.
The thing is, there are some healthy habits that are worth building regardless of how hard it can be to change. Your health is worth the effort. Regardless of how tempting it may be to give up on a New Year’s resolution that has hit the skids, it’s time to re-commit, or make a commitment, to your whole person health, including your oral health for the new year and every year going forward.
The Bigger Picture
Your oral health and your larger whole-body health are intricately intertwined. Your oral health can impact your overall health in a number of ways. Some of the bacteria commonly associated with caries disease are also associated with heart disease and infections in the heart. The bacteria found in the mouths of patients with gum infections have also been found in plaques associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Periodontal disease is also a risk factor for preterm birth and low birth weight.
Your body health can have a big effect on your oral health as well. Common medications are likely to cause dry mouth. Dry mouth is a major contributor to caries disease, and treating dry mouth is important to prevent major oral health complications. Diabetes, among its other known complications, can contribute to a decline in oral health. Osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, and autoimmune disease also are associated with oral health complications.
Resolve to Choose Better for Yourself
So, as you’re taking stock of your resolutions, resolve to make your oral health a priority for the sake of your overall health and well-being. Don’t delay your twice a year well-dental visits; schedule them. Delay feels like a way to avoid problems, but it only delays dealing with the problems and allows them to grow bigger uninterrupted. Brush every day with high quality oral care products selected for your specific needs, treating dry mouth or other complicating conditions.
If and when you tackle your diet with your resolutions, be sure to eat for tooth health. It’s more than avoiding sugars. Frequent snacking disrupts the healthy pH levels needed to keep teeth and gums disease free. Nutritious foods, particularly high calcium foods, can help feed healthy teeth as well as feeding the rest of the body. If that seems overwhelming, start with small steps. Even the simple step of replacing other beverages with plain water can make a big improvement in your oral health.
Resolutions can fail because we have a hard time changing our behavior. Replacing bad habits with good ones takes time and work, so it can be tempting just to give up. If you find yourself struggling to keep up with your resolutions, there’s help and simple steps you can take to stick with your new normal. If you need some strategies to help you stick with it, there’s information available to help you stick to your plan. Simple steps, like setting clear goals, dividing your big goal into small, achievable segments, or even recruiting an accountability buddy can make a big difference. Your health is too important to be consigned to the back hall closet with other abandoned hobbies and unmet goals!