Steps to Improve Your Family’s Oral And Overall Health

Rock Your Family’s Smiles in 2020

Nothing’s better than your loved ones’ smiles. That sly smile your spouse or partner shoots you across a crowded room that only you can decode. The gaping grin your six-year old proudly presents after losing another baby tooth. Smiles lighten our moods and relieve stress, and best of all, they’re contagious. In fact, you can improve your family’s health by simply smiling and laughing more. In 2020, take these four practical and doable steps to protect the smiles you love most.

1. Take Care of Your Brain

When you smile, your brain mixes up a feel-good concoction of neurotransmitters—dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. Upon their release, your body relaxes, lowering your heart rate and blood pressure. Even your immunity gets a boost. Plus, the more you smile, the more your brain rewires itself to positive thoughts. And it does this while connecting you to others; smiles of a loved one stimulates your brain to release the social hormone, Oxytocin. This “love hormone” is key to social ties, trust, and bonding. And studies show even your dog’s oxytocin levels rise when they see you smile.

Let’s face it. We don’t always feel like smiling, nor should anyone be compelled to smile. And smiling doesn’t magically cure clinical depression. Yet even on our toughest days, smiling will make you and those around you feel better. Even a forced a smile tricks your brain into activating a flood of feel-good chemicals. Study after study tells us that smiling improves our moods, relieves pain and stress, and breaks down relationship barriers.

In 2020, take care of your brain by making plenty of opportunities for smiles. Be a more intentional consumer of media. Balance the negative news of the day with healthy doses of comedies and funny films or theater. Laugh at pet videos. Play with your family pet. Even uplifting music will bring out your cheery side.

2. Take Care of Your Oral Health

When you take care of your family’s oral health, you’re doing more than protecting smiles; you’re protecting your family’s overall health. According to the Mayo Clinic, poor oral health can contribute to various diseases like cardiovascular disease and even pneumonia.

Oral health is rooted in good oral hygiene practices and habits. And it’s never too late to improve those habits. Focus on the basics:

  1. Beat bacteria with daily brushing and flossing. Brush with a soft-bristle brush after meals or at a minimum, twice a day. Floss nightly. Not only are you fighting bacteria that cause tooth decay, gum disease and infections, but you’re also lowering the chances of that bacteria spreading to other parts of your body.
  2. Use fluoride toothpaste. Study after study concludes that brushing your teeth regularly with fluoride toothpaste prevents dental caries. If you are concerned about how much fluoride should be in your family’s toothpaste, talk to us at your next dentist appointment.
  3. Talk to us about dental sealants to prevent cavities. Dental sealants are an effective protective barrier between your tooth enamel and decay-causing bacteria. Unlike tooth fillings that are applied to a cavity to seal off an area where decay has been removed, dental sealants are applied as a preventative treatment to teeth that have no decay or previous cavity fillings. Dental sealants can help your children avoid tooth decay and fillings. In fact, sealants are so effective that most dental insurance covers them for children and young adults.
  4. Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings. Ensuring your family members have their teeth cleaned at least twice yearly will maintain your family’s healthy smiles. Beyond removing plaque and tartar, your dental professionals protect your family’s health by identifying other oral health issues early, including gum disease, oral cancers, and TMJ Disorder.
  5. Pay attention to warning signs. Bleeding or swollen gums are a sign of infected tissue. Take any sign of infection in your mouth seriously and have it checked out. Other warning signs include tooth or filling movement, chronic bad breath, and persistent sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages. The sooner your attend to these symptoms, the better the outcome.

3. Take Care of Your Diet

Reducing the amount of sugar in your family’s diet is one of the best ways to protect your family’s oral and overall health. Removing sodas, sweetened fruit drinks, and sugary snacks from lunches and snacks is a great start. But reducing your family’s sugar intake requires even more vigilance since sugar has wheedled its way into all kinds of processed foods. Making a habit of reading labels and leave the more sugar-filled options on the store shelf.

The good news is that a diet that will rock your family’s smiles and foster good oral health is also a diet for optimum overall health. According to the American Dental Association, the following are simple and doable components of smile-healthy diet:

  1. Water. Drink plenty of it and offer it instead of sugary drinks.
  2. Variety is the spice of life. Provide your family foods from each of the five major foods groups: whole grains, fruits, veggies, lean sources of protein (like lean beef, skinless poultry and fish) as well as beans, peas, and other legumes, and low-fat and fat-free dairy foods.
  3. Snacks. Limit snacks, and when you do offer snacks, choose fruit, nuts, vegetables, or a piece of cheese.

4. Take Care of Yourself

Your health and well-being are essential to your family’s smiles. As you care for a your busy family, make sure you are establishing everyday habits that integrate your own self-care.

  1. Get adequate sleep. Give yourself enough time to sleep every night. Don’t squeeze sleep out of your busy schedule. Just as you ensure routines for when your kids go to bed and wake up, keep a sleep schedule routine for yourself. Staying up late and sleeping in late on weekends can disrupt your body clock’s sleep–wake rhythm.
  2. Get outside. This is especially important in the winter months. When you get yourself outside, you’re naturally going to engage in more physical activity. Even if it’s just a short walk with your dog, get out there.
  3. If you smoke, get some help to QUIT. Smoking stains your teeth and can cause tooth and gum problems. Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and causes many diseases. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Check out gov for help.
  4. Limit alcoholic drinks. A drink now and then isn’t a problem, but even moderate drinking stains your teeth, dries out your mouth, and exposes your tooth enamel to more acids. Moreover, heavy drinkers have more gum disease, tooth decay, and mouth sores. Plus alcohol abuse is the second most common risk factor for oral cancer.
  5. Don’t demand perfection from yourself. Practice self-compassion. Cut yourself some slack and remember that sustainable growth starts with baby steps.

At Davis Gribble Hollowwa, we love smiles and love partnering with families to keep those smiles healthy. We welcome any new patients. Make an appointment today!

Author Info

Dr. Connor Hollowwa

Dr. Connor Hollowwa is an Albuquerque native. He graduated from the Albuquerque Academy and went on to receive a BA from Rice University. His Doctorate of Dental Surgery is from Creighton University School of Dentistry. Before joining private practice he practiced at the state-of-the-art Isleta Health Center’s Dental Clinic, providing modern dental care for the members of the Pueblo of Isleta. In his free time he enjoys playing the piano, fly-fishing, golfing, and skiing.