Start New Habits to Achieve a Healthy Mouth
Forming habits has long been studied. As humans we desire to become better, yet it is often difficult. When it comes to oral health, we often want to make a behavior change, like brushing longer or cleaning between our teeth more often, but we can’t seem to align our desire with our behavior.
Do you think about brushing your teeth every morning, or do you repeat this action on autopilot? Many times, you do this action without even thinking. You have established this action as a routine habitual activity.
A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology in 2010, called How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world, investigated the process of habit formation. When an activity was done in the same context for 12 weeks, there were reports of automaticity ranging from 18 to 254 days. This is a considerable variation in how long it may take someone to develop a habit, and it can take a very long time (lally et al., Eur J Soc Psychol, 2010). Every person is different, but on average it took 66 days to create a new habit.
3 tips you can try when adding healthy oral habits into your daily homecare
One Goal at a Time
If you were to write down a list of priorities on how to become your best self, it would most likely be long. You can’t accomplish the entire list at once. Only focus on a few things until you become good at those, and then you can move onto more goals.
Think about the habits you currently do, and now combine the new habits you want to start. You would fill in the blanks to this sentence: After/Before/While [Current habit], I will [New Habit]. For example: After I wash my face at night, I will floss my teeth OR While I watch television in the morning, I will floss my teeth. Then when you wash your face or watch television, it becomes your cue to floss your teeth.
You will hit inevitable barriers. What happens when you run out of floss or forget it on vacation? Coping planning anticipates these potential obstacles, and you create strategies for dealing with these barriers. For example, if you are just starting to incorporate flossing into your routine, make sure to buy extra for unexpected circumstances.