There’s nothing like that new year feel! It’s full of possibilities of doing better, being better, changing for the better. I, for one, like the opportunity to examine my life and change to get closer to my vision of “perfect me”. (You know, that woman who isn’t on her phone too much, gets enough water, and always finds time to do her Mutu mamas workout).
As a healthcare provider, it interests me what motivates people to finally make the changes to be healthier. On this quest, I came across the book Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. It is full of great tips on how to form habits. The great thing about her book is that she recognizes differences in people that impact how they should best form habits. What works for me might not necessarily work for you.
I’ve sorted out the best advice I found from the book that relates to forming a healthy dental habit.
1. What type of person are you when it comes to expectations? The author identifies four main categories of how people respond to inner and outer expectations. Want to know which you are and how that impacts your habit goals? Take the quiz.
2. Monitoring is key. If we keep track of what we are actually doing, we can change it for the better. That is one reason I love the new Oral-B Genius toothbrushes and the Sonicare kids app. The Oral-B brush syncs with your phone and keeps track of how long you brush, how many times a day and even where in your mouth you are missing. This can make you aware of how you are actually doing, which is probably not as good as you imagine. People tend to think they do better than they actually do (like overestimating how much exercise you get per week or underestimating phone use). The Sonicare kids app also keeps track of how much and how long kids brush. Plus it gives little digital incentives in the form of food, clothes and background for a cute little brush monster.
3. Tie a new habit to an existing habit. Always brush twice a day, but have issues flossing? Tie the flossing habit to your brushing habit. I know a lot of people don’t floss, and I’ll even admit that I started flossing daily in dental school (I hate the thought of being a hypocrite, I can’t tell people to floss if I don’t!). Now I can’t not floss. It makes my gums feel so much better. This study looked at the efficacy of forming a flossing habit. They found that a positive attitude and flossing after brushing were associated with stronger habits. It’s easier to remember your ingrained habit (brushing) and add on flossing immediately afterwards.
4. Start today and do it everyday. There is no tomorrow, putting off something just ensures it won’t get done another day. Habits that are done everyday as opposed to every other or once a week are stronger habits.
5. Accountability is very helpful. Going back to the Oral-B Genius brush, it has a function where you can send your brushing data to me at the dental office. I can hold you accountable, especially if you find you are an “obliger” and need it! (Side note: we sell the Oral-B Genius for a reduced rate at the office, but you can also buy it at the store or online).
I hope this helps you form a new oil pulling, flossing, brushing or rinsing habit! “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Will Durant paraphrasing Aristotle