Whether or not you believe in making new year’s resolutions, there’s never a better time to start establishing healthy habits than at the beginning of the new year. So get out there, buy some floss, replace your toothbrush, and think about making these changes for better oral health.

Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking may be the most challenging on the list as there are things like nicotine addiction to consider, but doing so will impact your entire body for good in the long run. Besides the fact that it will improve your mood, stamina, and reduce your risk of lung cancer, it will also decrease your chances of mouth cancers as well and prevent your teeth from becoming discoloured.

Bi-Yearly Dental Visits

You would be surprised at how many people avoid going to the dentist and miss their twice yearly appointments. If it makes it easier, schedule them in advance and mark them on your calendar so you don’t forget. Stick to the appointment and make it a priority. If you have to reschedule, make sure you do it on the day that you cancel as you may forget to phone back.

Brush and Floss

Dentists recommend brushing three times a day, after each meal preferably, and yet most people only brush their teeth once a day, if at all. Brushing your teeth takes no more than five minutes, so plan out your morning before work to incorporate it in your routine. Buy a travel toothbrush and travel size toothpaste as well to freshen up at work before you come back from your lunch break. The last one of the day is the easiest as you can do it before going to bed. If you’re the type of person to watch TV until you fall asleep, rush your teeth beforehand so you can just fall back into the pillows for a long, relaxing slumber.

Dental Procedures

If there is something that your dentist has been recommending for awhile, the new year may just be the time to do it. Whether it’s a crown, an implant, or maybe even something cosmetic like a veneer or two, save up or finance the procedure, and stop putting it off. 

When a bacterial infection becomes present in the tooth, an abcess can appear, which forms a pocket of pus. These abscesses are typically very painful, even being felt in the neck or ear, and should be looked at right away because they can lead to life threatening conditions.

There are many symptoms that can indicate the presence of an abscess, including:

  • Radiating pain
  • Pain when eating
  • Redness and swelling in the face
  • Worsening pain when lying down
  • Red, swollen gums
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever

To treat an abscess, a dental x-ray may need to be taken to check and see if the infection has spread anywhere else. Depending on the severity, your dentist will recommend one of the following treatment options:

  • Making an incision and draining the abscess
  • Root canal therapy
  • Antibiotics
  • Removing the tooth

If you’re unable to reach your dentist right away or have pain, over the counter medication can be taken to relieve the symptoms until medical help can be given.

Experiencing headaches and difficulty talking and eating? Before you start searching up different causes, discover whether or not it has something to do with your temporomandibular joint or TMJ. These joints connect your lower jaw to your skull, hence why they can cause headaches. Normally, these joints are able to move freely, which is why you can talk and chew without difficulty, but sometimes trauma and overuse can cause the TMJ to slip out of place and cause pain and discomfort. When a problem in your TMJ is diagnosed, it is referred to as TMD or Temporomandibular Disorder.

Causes of TMD

Trauma: A sports injury, car accident, or anything that comes into contact with your TMJ can be considered trauma.

Bruxism: Grinding and clenching your teeth causes pressure on the TMJ.

Arthritis: This disease can manifest in any joint, including your TMJ.

Nerve Damage: If your jaw nerves become affected, the pain may be centralized in your TMJ.

Symptoms of TMD

Jaw pain is the most common of the symptoms, but suffers of TMJ may also experience all or a combination of the following

  • Mild to severe headaches
  • Jaw locking, popping, and sliding
  • Difficulty or unable to do activities such as talking and eating.

Diagnosis of TMD

Before a treatment plan can be started, a diagnosis needs to be made on the cause of the TMD. Most commonly, x-rays will be ordered, as well as an MRI or blood tests in order to reach the most accurate conclusion.

Treatment of TMD

No two people will go through the same TMD treatment if the cause is different. One person may have to go through a bottle of antibiotics, others may have to be on arthritic medication, and other may have to have mouth guards and even surgery to correct the discomfort.

Talk to your dentist if you experience any of the symptoms of TMD and they’ll be able to put you on the right path to recovery.

Sleep apnea occurs when a person has pauses in their breathing during their sleep, but they may not know it. However, there are a few distinct symptoms that a person with sleep apnea will have, such as those that are listed below.


Snoring can be an issue all on its own and may not indicate that the person has sleep apnea, but it is one of the most common symptoms amongst patients. This is because something is obstructing their airway and when the air cannot flow properly, snoring occurs.

Difficulty Concentrating

People often face this issue when they’re unable to get enough sleep during the night. Because sleep apnea disrupts a person’s sleeping pattern, it leaves them feeling exhausted in the morning, even if they don’t wake from their sleep apnea. Those who suffer from sleep apnea also have low levels of gamma-Aminobutyric acid and glutamate, two chemicals that are needed for regular brain function and to ensure a good night’s rest.

Irregular Breathing During Sleep

This is by far the most distinct symptom that a person with sleep apnea will exhibit. The pauses in the sleep that are known as apneas in the medical world can last anywhere from 10-30 seconds, and in severe cases can happen every few minutes. Those who sleep with a partner at night may notice the signs of this symptom as it can come in the form of choking or gasping, but other times the apnea is silent.

Headaches Upon Waking

When people with sleep apnea fall asleep, the brain sends a message to the rest of the body to dilate the arteries so that it can conserve oxygen and maximize blood flow throughout the body since the proper amount of oxygen is not being taken in. This dilation, however, causes pressure in the head, causing sufferers to wake up with a pounding in their skull. This often fades after a few hours of regular breathing.

Dry Mouth 

Since breathing through the nose is difficult when you have sleep apnea, this causes the person to breathe through their mouth in order to try and get enough oxygen. This naturally dries the saliva that the mouth produces, therefore making the mouth feel rough and dry.

Frequent Waking

Again, this symptom may not indicate sleep apnea as many people wake during the night. However, what sets it apart is that people with sleep apnea find no reason for their body to wake during the night, such as using the bathroom, hunger, or a bad dream.

High Blood Pressure

Sleep apnea often goes hand in hand with poor cardiovascular health. This is because oxygen is needed in the blood in order to move properly throughout the body. When the heart doesn’t detect enough oxygen in the blood it has to work harder in order to pump blood throughout the body. Because of overexertion, your blood pressure rises, which goes hand in hand with stress levels as well. Severe, untreated sleep apnea can further lead to conditions such as obesity, stokes, and even heart attacks.

Luckily, there are options. For more severe cases, a CPAP machine is available to make sure that a person stays breathing throughout the night. For milder cases, your dentist can offer a device. To discuss your options, schedule a consultation with your dentist.