New Year, New Habits

“…you don’t know how hard it is to quit smoking!

Yes I do. As hard as it is to START flossing.

You’re looking kinda jittery.

Yeah, I’m about to floss.”

– comedian Mitch Hedberg

Habits.  Most often we think of habits as being negative…  as bad routines that we must try to overcome (ie. smoking, over eating, swearing).  But habits can also be a healthy, even essential, part of our daily lives. Most of us are in the habit of washing our hands regularly, covering our mouths when we cough, and looking both ways before we cross the street.  These habits are important for the preservation of our health and well being.

That does not mean that these good habits are easy to establish, however.  Even things that we know are good for us can still take time to become a regular behavior.  Modern brain imaging has revealed the fact that every time we act, we are conditioning ourselves to act in the same way again.  This reinforces what common sense tells us: the more we make an effort to build good habits, the easier it becomes to be consistent with those behaviors.

The same principles apply to oral hygiene and dental health.  The hard part is STARTING. Each time we floss or brush our teeth, however, it makes it easier to remember and follow throught the next time.  It is probably obvious, but those who are in the habit of brushing, flossing, watching their diet, etc. benefit from that regular care and have far lower rates of tooth decay and periodontal diease and generally spend less on dental care.

As we begin this new year, let us all make a commitment to establish good habits that contribute to the health of mind, body, spirit, and teeth!

And, yes, this post is a bit late… bad habit, I guess.