New Year’s resolutions fall into two buckets – the ones we keep and the ones we don’t. Taking better care of your dental health is similar to going to the gym, you know you have to do it, you dread doing it, but afterward feel great for having done it. Unlike going to the gym, when you take care of your pearly whites you can actually see results immediately and only have to spend a fraction of the time to do so. Here are three strategies to keep your smile brighter in the New Year.

1. Buy an electric tooth brush: As I’ve mentioned previously, the best investment in your dental health is an electric toothbrush. Whether it’s Sonicare (my toothbrush of choice) or Oral B, the $150 ticket price is worth it. Did you know you would have to brush for an entire month (twice per day for thirty days) with a regular tooth brush in order to accomplish the same number of strokes as brushing for two minutes with a Sonicare electric brush? Think about how clean your mouth will be if you spend just four minutes per day using your electric brush. And another bonus – a whiter and more attractive smile!

2. Make an honest effort to floss: Let’s be honest, no one likes to floss. Winding that little string around your fingers and trying to maneuver it throughout your mouth without choking seems like a task worth avoiding. But those of us who’ve had dental cavities between our teeth know that in the long run, spending thirty seconds per day flossing is much better than getting a filling. The key is finding the right flossing tools that works for you. Whether it’s flossing string, floss pick or a water pick, spending those seconds removing plaque and bacteria before bedtime is crucial to avoiding cavities.

3. Limit sugary and sticky foods: The hardest part about keeping our mouth clean is after eating sticky foods that get caught between our teeth and are impossible to get out. Those sour patch kids, gummy bears and caramel chews are delicious but tend to stick around the longest if not properly removed. And since they’re so high in sugar, they’re like battery acid to our teeth, eating away at our tooth enamel. By limiting our consumption of these sticky and sugary candy, we can significantly reduce the risk of tooth decay. Plus it will decrease the number of calories we have to burn at the gym!

Most importantly, don’t forget to see your dentist for your regular checkup and cleaning. You can avoid problems before they start or at least before they get any worse.

Dr. Valerie Martins founded Martins Dental Partners — located at 130 Cabot Street in Beverly, MA — to bring her dream of a full-service dental practice focused on delivering an unparalleled patient experience to life. Dr. Martins discovered her love of Dentistry as a teenager while working in the dental office of a family friend, where she was fascinated by the close relationships between dentists, staff, and patients. Today, creating close relationships with her team and patients is the foundation of Martins Dental Partners philosophy. “I believe that a positive dental experience for most patients starts with building trust and a good rapport with their doctor, starting at the first appointment.” Dr. Martins says.