A point of transition in our lives often feels like an opportunity for a makeover. Whether we’re entering the next grade as a student, starting a new job, or celebrating the new year, we think of these moments as a chance to change something about ourselves. You might say to yourself, “I’m going to be more organized,” or “I’m going to eat better and exercise,” or even “I’m going to floss every day, and this time I mean it!”
Even with the best of intentions, it can be difficult to change your routine — it’s far too easy to fall back into old habits. For instance, way too many people (40 percent) fail to brush and floss their teeth as often as they should. This is despite the honest intentions of people wanting to do better and knowing the importance of dental hygiene.
Why is change so hard? What can you do differently this time around to stick to your dental hygiene goals all year long? It turns out there are a few evidence-based strategies to help you change your habits.
Set Incremental Goals
You might hope to transform yourself overnight, but most people ultimately fail to stick to their goals when making a sudden, drastic change. Your chances become slimmer the greater the change is from your current habits and worse still if you attempt to make more than one change at a time.
When establishing a new habit (such as improving oral hygiene), it’s most effective to break that goal into smaller, specific goals that are easier to handle.
For example, you might start by simply scheduling your first dental cleaning as January’s goal. Knowing that you have an upcoming dental appointment will help you stay on task, and you’ll start your resolution with a goal that can be achieved quickly and easily.
In February you can take your next step. Perhaps you don’t always get your brushing in before bed, so this month, that is your only goal to focus on.
In March, the goal could be to add flossing every day. Each month, focus on integrating one more small change into your life. After you have successfully established the new habit as part of your routine, the next month you can add something else.
Make It Convenient
The more willpower it takes to achieve your goals, the longer your odds of success. Unless you can find ways to make your goals convenient, you may have made a resolution that you won’t keep.
Preparation is the key to convenience. Convenience helps you achieve consistency, and consistency is better than perfection. Whatever it takes for you to follow through, do it — even if it’s not ideal. A not-so-perfect dental regimen that you will follow is much better than a perfectly designed plan that you fail to execute because it’s hard to adjust to.
If you always forget to floss, tie the habit to an activity you won’t fail to do. For example, keep a pack of flossers next to the leash and make it a habit to floss when you walk the dog.
Have you ever derided yourself for lacking motivation? That’s something that we’ve all faced. Take comfort in the fact that even the best athletes in the world, with talent on their side and fame and fortune on the line, still slack off sometimes. Coaches are paid big bucks to get their players to practice fundamentals, train, and be accountable. We are all like this; we perform better when we are held accountable.
You might not have Jason Garrett looming over you to make sure you floss every day, but you do have your Bedford dentist. With our help, you can make this the year that you transform your oral health.
Make the Change — Start With Comfort Care
Our Bedford dental practice uses a philosophy we like to call “comfort care.” We go beyond utilizing the best techniques and latest technology; we consider compassion and comfort to be just as important as our physical tools.
To eliminate the fear of going to the dentist, we use the most advanced pain management techniques. We pamper our patients with blankets, pillows, and headphones. We also offer extended hours in the early morning and in the evening, as well as lunchtime appointments, to better fit your schedule!
We can help hold you accountable while providing the highest level of dental care available. Begin the year right by scheduling a cleaning, and we’ll help create a dental care plan specifically for you.
~Dr. Marea White