Making new dental habits stick

Posted by on 16 February 2016 | Comments

So you’ve decided to make dental hygiene your Spring resolution - not the most popular or glamorous choice but definitely a smart one! Whether it's brushing more regularly, flossing, using mouth wash or just attending regular check-ups, the chances are you've tried to make it a priority before and it didn't work. So here's some advice to make it stick this time. 

 

Why didn’t it work before?

If you are trying to form a new habit that you've already attacked before, it's worth looking at why it didn't work the first time around. Write down all the reasons NOW that you think contributed to your failure. Next to these write how you will combat them this time. Stopping these reasons in advance should help to pave the way for success.

 

Track your habit

If you track your new habit, you make yourself accountable for your goals. There are many apps you can get for your phone or computer or you can rock it old school with a check list in your diary or on your bedroom wall

 

Build a Support network

I get by with a little help from my friends has never been more fitting.  Tell your friends and family what you plan to achieve this year. An even more powerful method is to include those around you in your goals. If you want to attend regular check-ups, book them the same time as a member of your family or a friend to help encourage you. 

 

Plan

You are more likely to stick to something if you have it written down, whether that's in paper or digital form. If your resolution is to attend regular appointments, make sure you stick it in your diary or if it’s on your phone make sure you set an alert. Don't just hope to remember it when it comes around. If your goal is to use mouthwash and floss after brushing work out how much time this will take and plan your morning and evenings accordingly. If you need five minutes to do this get up five minutes earlier or start your bedtime routine earlier. When you go for a check-up make sure you book your next appointment before you leave.

 

Use a behaviour chain

Scientific evidence shows that habits are stickier if you include them in a behaviour chain. This gives you a contextual cue that is time to do the habit as opposed to doing it by memory and willpower alone. So, instead of making your resolution "I will look after my teeth more" make it: " I will get up, I will shower, I will eat breakfast, I will clean my teeth, I will floss, I will mouthwash, I will drive to work"