Dentist Blog

Ensure a better oral health routine at home

The vast majority of us have set routines that we adhere to day in and day out. Whether it's automatically browsing our social media pages as soon as we wake up or walking straight to the fridge when we come home from work. Our brain is structured to almost create these "shortcuts" for us day to day. By not having to actively think about these things, they make our lives easier without even thinking about it. Sadly, some of these so-called shortcuts, aren't actually that good for us.

What's more, like all species, our brains like to take the easy route and just as we're trained to make some questionable choices (fizzy drinks every journey home from work), we're also trained to sometimes forget to do the more important things. This is exactly how many of us decide we "don't have the time" for brushing our teeth, falling into bad habits. When it comes to an oral health routine, if this is something that's getting forgotten or pushed aside, we risk tooth decay and more.

While we know we should adhere to our at-home oral health routine, our brains sadly sometimes have other ideas however, there are ways to almost retrain your brain, to help keep your routine perfect.

Train your brain for better oral health

According to the latest research, habits consist of three different parts which are the cue, the routine and the reward. The cue prompts you to do something, the routine is exactly what you do and the reward is the reason you do it. A great example of this would be skipping your night time tooth brushing. The cue would be wanting to go to bed, the routine would be putting on your pajamas and the reward would be getting to sleep faster. The most effective way to get out of this habit is to keep the reward yet change the precursors. So in the case of your bedtime oral health routine, we want to maximise our sleep and increase the time we have for brushing our teeth. As the saying goes, there's more than one way to skin to cat (who'd want to do that though??), likewise there are a number of ways you can create a new pattern. What works for you however, largely depends on your evening routine. For some, simply moving dinner forward by something as little as ten minutes, or organising your work clothes for the next morning is enough to help them change their routine. For others, limiting their evening TV time is needed. It's all about trial and error until you find your new cue (wanting to sleep), your new routine (brushing your teeth) and your new reward (maximised sleep).

Keeping your oral health routin

Just like that New Years resolution, the majority of new routines tend to fail within the first few weeks. What's worth noting however, is that a new routine takes at least 2 months to become habit which means you need to stick at it, even when you experience set-backs. Here are a few tips to ensure you stick to your routine:

  1. More rewards - When you reach a milestone, celebrate it. Be it 3 days or 3 weeks, give yourself a reward to keep yourself going.

  2. Chart progress - Put a note on your fridge or even a calendar in your bathroom and simply tick off each time you stick to your new oral health routine. This gives visual cues and allows you to track things easily.

  3. Set an alarm - Set an alarm on your phone to give you a reminder of when you're due to brush your teeth. Something as simple as this can really help to keep you on track.

  4. Don't be afraid to ask for help - Ask a friend or loved one to remind you. Just a little nudge from your partner to "go brush your teeth" could mean the difference between creating a routine and failing.

For more help with your at-home OrAl HEAltH RoutINE or if you'd like to pay a visit to your dentist to really kick start your new habit, make an appointment with your dentist today.

Source -, Oral Care Center, Blog, Train Your Brain