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The start of spring is a popular time to get rid of clutter, spruce up your space and introduce fresh positive energy into your life. Not only is it an opportunity to tackle long-overdue household chores, it’s also a chance to shake up your winter routine. It’s the perfect time to shed old habits and welcome new ones — or, recommit to the habits that benefit your overall health and wellbeing. But, on your endless spring to-do list, it’s easy for things to get pushed aside or lost in the shuffle. Especially your bi-annual dental checkup. In 2010, a study by the Public Health Agency of Canada found that more than 25% of Canadians do not get dental checkups on a regular basis. This alarmingly high numbers means that many Canadians may need costly dental procedures to repair damage from lack of preventative treatment. So, while visiting the dentist may not seem like an essential item on your spring cleaning agenda, it is vital to maintaining your oral health and, in turn, your overall health. Just like a routine physical with your family doctor, it’s important to check in and stay on top of your wellbeing. Neglecting it may not have immediate consequences, but could lead to oral health problems future. Beyond your dental checkup, there are so many easy things you can do this spring to keep your smile in optimal shape:

Brush Up On Your Brushing Technique

After a lifetime of brushing your teeth twice daily, you probably consider yourself an expert. In fact, you do it so often that your mind is constantly wandering, and not focused on the task at hand. You may even multitask, brushing with one hand and doing something else with the other. This is where the problem lies — by not giving it your full attention, it’s easy to stick to. the same few motions each time, therefore not brushing as thoroughly as you should be. Use this time to remind yourself of the basic brushing principles:

  • Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward your gum line, and gently move the bristles back and forth in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
  • Make sure to brush the outer, inner and biting surfaces of all your teeth.
  • To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed.
  • Brush your tongue as well, or use a tongue cleaner.

Floss Like A Boss

It’s never too late to recommit to regular flossing. Most people don’t know that brushing your teeth without flossing is like washing only 65% of your body. And, because it’s the primary cause of halitosis, choosing not to floss is basically like choosing to have bad breath. So, it’s important to consider flossing as a fundamental practice for good hygiene, and as a safeguard against dental plaque, bleeding gums and tooth decay.  Plus, it only takes a few seconds!

It’s All In The Diet

In case you need even more reasons to maintain a healthy diet, keeping your teeth and gums in tip-top shape can be as simple as choosing the right food. Foods and snacks that are high in sugar, carbohydrates and starches attack your teeth over time. Even things you consider “safe”, like bread and fruit juices, contain sugar that can be harmful to your teeth if consumed in large, regular quantities. It’s important to stay conscious of the food choices you make, and to always maintain a balanced diet. According to the ADA, fruits and vegetables should take up half of your plate, with the other half divided between whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean protein foods. Chewing firm and fibre-rich fruits and veggies, like broccoli, spinach, apples and lettuce, are especially important for stimulating saliva, improving digestion and reducing food retention in your mouth. They even act as natural toothbrushes, scrubbing your teeth of leftover food particles.