2020 was a year unlike most of us had ever experienced. With the COVID pandemic essentially shutting down the nation, we were forced to pause our plans–and that often included our medical appointments. 

Unfortunately, that means that all of our pearly whites might not have gotten the love and care that they deserved. However, as we start the new year, now’s the perfect time to rid ourselves of (and start) dental habits that can help keep our smiles healthy and bright, especially for our children.

Let your McAllen family and pediatric dentists at Heroes Dental share some New Year’s resolutions that can positively affect the family’s oral health. We look forward to heroes of all ages making these changes that will help them to take better care of their teeth and gums.


Dental Health Habits to Break in 2021


1. Stop snacking on sugary treats all the time.

This is one of the most challenging habits to break because children (and most adults) almost always have a sweet tooth. Unfortunately, foods, drinks, and snacks with high sugar content can easily lead to tooth decay.

The sugars in candies, for instance, can find their way into hidden crevices on your teeth, allowing for enamel destroying bacteria to do their work. The same goes for sugary drinks such as sodas or fruit juices. Not only can these beverages stain our smiles, but they can also leave a coat of acid on the enamel of our teeth that can greatly increase the risk of tooth decay.  


2. Don’t use your teeth as a tool. 

Many of us tend to use our teeth as a tool to open up packages, tear through ribbon or tape, or even use their molars as a bottle opener, but doing so will only put your or your child’s teeth at risk of cracking or chipping.

A dental emergency can easily happen because of this habit and may require invasive cosmetic dentistry services to remedy the issue. And while it’s easy to think that this only happens on larger items, even chewing on a pen cap or ice cubes can lead to cracks.

It’s also important to avoid nail-biting. Not only can this chip your teeth, but it can also impact the jaw, ultimately leading to TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder.


3. Do what you can to avoid grinding your teeth. 

Teeth grinding is often a subconscious act that takes place without us even recognizing it. While it frequently happens at night as we sleep, stress and anxiety may be causing you to grind your teeth during the day while you or your child works on assignments or takes care of other responsibilities. 

Grinding can lead to headaches, tenderness around the jaw, and jaw popping and stiffening, and it can also wear down your enamel and damage the bone structure of the temporomandibular joint. Talk with your McAllen family dentist if you think this might be a problem. 


4. Take it easy when brushing your teeth. 

You may think that brushing your teeth vigorously will help to remove even more bacteria, but that’s not the case. Brushing aggressively can actually damage your teeth and gums. 

Instead, focus on gently brushing your teeth for the two minutes recommended in slow, circular motions. 


5. Don’t let bumps in the road stop your dental health journey. 

Life can be hectic and plenty can get in our way on a day-to-day basis that might make us forget to complete our daily oral health routine. It happens but it shouldn’t stop you from getting back on track the following day. 

The main thing is to not let days and weeks go by without properly taking care of your teeth, especially for children. 


Dental Health Habits to Make in 2021


1. Get organized and plan ahead. 

From school and sports to after-school activities, there’s always plenty to keep you and your little heroes busy. That’s why establishing a schedule and sticking to it is so important. Making time to take care of your and your family’s health is important, so make sure to get organized and schedule those annual dental exams and cleanings.


2. Make sure to brush twice daily. 

Brushing your teeth twice a day should be the first step to a good oral health routine. Of course, for busy moms and dads, finding the time to brush can be a challenge. That’s why having an oral hygiene travel kit on hand is the best option.


3. Floss once a day. 

Flossing is another essential habit that everyone needs to develop to properly protect teeth and gums. While brushing will help remove surface plaque and bacteria, you’ll need to floss in order to get to that tough-to-reach plaque in between crevices and along the gum line. Make sure to floss at least once a day.


4. Don’t forget to gargle.  

Nowadays, there are plenty of mouthwash options available at your local grocery store, and they come in different flavors that serve different purposes. Some, for instance, help to whiten teeth, while others provide additional fluoride. 

However, if you’re looking for a more natural option, apple cider vinegar might just be the thing for you. This simple addition to your oral healthcare routine can help to remove bacteria from your mouth, minimize staining, and help to maintain fresh breath.   


5. Eat more teeth-friendly foods. 

Healthier foods can prove to be excellent for your smile. Dairy products like yogurt are high in calcium and great for the health of your teeth. Fibrous foods like broccoli, pears, and carrots help to scrub your teeth and keep them clean by stimulating saliva production.

Also, drinking plenty of water, especially after a meal, can help wash away food particles stuck between your teeth. Plus, staying hydrated helps you avoid having dry mouth, which can lead to plenty of oral health issues. 

And perhaps the biggest benefit, a tooth-friendly diet that includes plenty of vegetables and fruits (and fewer sweets) is great for your overall health.


6. The most important habit to make in 2021…

Taking your children to visit their local McAllen pediatric dentist and family dentist at Heroes Dental is one of the best habits you can make in 2021. Our McAllen dentists will check your overall oral health, perform a thorough cleaning, remove any plaque and tartar buildup, polish your teeth, and provide a fluoride treatment if necessary.  


Visiting Heroes Dental for the First Time

If this is the first time you’ll be visiting us at Heroes Dental, and you’re curious how your child’s appointment might look, then take the following into consideration. 


1. Paperwork is the first step.  

One of the most important steps of the process, you’ll have to fill out the necessary forms to provide us info on your medical and dental history. This paperwork will include health history forms, patient consent forms, and financial policies.

In your first visit to Heroes Dental, you’ll want to bring your insurance information with you, as well as a list of medications you or your children are taking. Since this first step can take some time, you’ll want to show up a little earlier to fill out all the paperwork.


2. Time for the examination. 

This first exam usually consists of multiple steps including dental X-rays, physical examination of your teeth, gums, mouth, and throat, and discussion about any oral health issues you are having. This part of the process is essential as our McAllen pediatric dentists will be able to uncover any major problems.  

If it’s been some time since you’ve been in a dental office, then you’ll probably see some new and amazing technology. But no need to be afraid! These tools are designed to make your experience much more comfortable, efficient, and effective. 


3. The cleaning. 

Perhaps the most important part of your visit is the cleaning. Our dental hygienist and dentist will do a thorough job of removing plaque, tartar, and uncovering any cavities. 

If any cavities should be found during the cleaning and evaluation process, then we will provide you with a number of options to help fix the issue. 

4. Discussing issues and scheduling your next appointment. 

Throughout the cleaning process, our team will be looking out for any major oral health issues such as periodontitis, cavities, fractured teeth, or worn fillings, to name a few. If any major issues are found, our dentist will recommend some preventative care or other treatments. 

This is also the perfect time for you to ask questions about your oral health and how it could be affecting your overall health as well.

The final step will be to schedule a follow-up visit to continue treatment and set you up for another dental checkup.

At Heroes Dental, we’re all about supporting you and your health goals, especially when they benefit your teeth. If you’re ready to get a head start on those habits you’ll want to make or break in 2021, then contact us today at our McAllen Heroes Dental office today. 


Heroes Dental is here to support your family’s dental health needs in 2021 and beyond. 

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