How To Build An Oral Health Routine
Consistent care is the key to positive oral health and therefore it is important to make sure you develop a proper routine that is second nature to perform. Whether it is going to the gym or practicing a new skill, building habits around any activity is the key to its long-term success and oral care is no different. Here are several ways that you could work to build healthy oral habits with a proper oral care routine.
Make A Checklist
When you were younger, your parents may have laid out a chore schedule of some kind to keep up with everything that needed to be done. Doing something similar for daily care might seem tedious or childish, but it may just help serve as a proper reminder to take care of simple easy to forget tasks like brushing our teeth or flossing. There is also a psychological reward to being able to check off or complete items on a to-do list. This positive feeling can help to encourage us to perform the behavior more often, helping to make any act, such as remembering to brush your teeth, a consistent behavior.
Aside from providing positive reinforcement it also helps to free up brain energy that can be used towards more creative functions. If you are not already in the habit of brushing every day then it can seem like a chore to have to remember, let alone perform the action. A simple checklist trivializes this process and eases the mental energy we would have to exert thinking about it. According to E.J. Masicampo, an associate professor of psychology at Wake Forest University, “When a goal is unfinished it might be a weight on your mind in terms of anxiety or worry and it colors how you see the world, because it's sort of tugging at the sleeve of your conscious attention. It can be omnipresent whether you're aware of it or not."
Having a checklist as a reminder, and being able to physically & mentally write off a specific task are all great steps to building a proper routine.
Define Intrinsic Motivations
Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations serve a purpose in our daily lives. When it comes to setting goals or building habits, an intrinsic motivation is more likely to lead to long term success. Finding intrinsic motivation (motivation that is driven by self-satisfaction) will lead you to want to perform a certain action. In the case of oral care, don’t try to keep yourself motivated to brush and floss your teeth because you want others to notice a white smile. Extrinsic motivation can play a factor [for example: brushing your teeth twice daily to avoid costly dental expenses because it lacks a form of self-fulfillment but it is unlikely to help build a consistent routine. An important aspect of intrinsic motivation is that the individual has control over its success or failure. When we look to external validation, we cannot be sure that it will occur because it relies on factors and variables outside of our control. Instead, find a reason that is personal to yourself, and one whose success and outcome can be entirely controlled by you.
It is important to know that it is okay to ask for help. Sometimes we may find it hard to admit our mistakes, and subsequently, hold ourselves accountable for not doing the things we set out to do. In these instances, it may be beneficial to ask a partner or family member to help remind you to brush your teeth, floss, or practice oral care. Having another person who can remind you may be the small push to make sure that you brush every day. When trying to implement lifestyle changes, external support can oftentimes be crucial to build an activity into a habit. Being sure to enlist the help of someone who already has the habit you are trying to build can help support the routine and will make it easier for you to support the new habit. For the purposes of your oral hygiene habits - ask your hygienist and dentist when you see them next. At Dental365 we are always looking for opportunities to praise our patient’s on their efforts toward achieving better oral health routines!
Make A Schedule
Some of the most successful individuals today have built their success on the foundation of performing regular habits. Most commonly we hear about waking up at the same time every day, but this can apply to other aspects of life, including keeping our teeth healthy. Committing to brushing at the same time each day is a positive reinforcement for our brains that wires us to perform the habit for long term success. Setting a consistent time to brush your teeth will gradually help to make the action feel like second nature. By planning ahead for time to brush and floss, you can also make your routine of brushing a more personal experience that works to make a seemingly tedious action more relaxing, such as practicing dental spa techniques from the comfort of home!
Keeping Up With Dental Habits
Trying to incorporate a new lifestyle habit does not happen overnight. It takes time and repetition to build a new activity into something regular and natural. By following some, or all, of the tips provided you can be sure that you will not only remember to brush your teeth every day, but you will feel good for doing it in the process! Brushing and flossing can still miss hard to reach places in the mouth, and so it is important to schedule regular visits to your dentist as well to help keep you on track with proper oral care!
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