By Lori Culpepper

If you are someone who likes to make resolutions at the start of a new year, you’re probably familiar with the usual goals, such as exercising more, eating healthy foods, losing weight, and other similar aspirations. This year, two Alabaster healthcare providers would like to suggest a new perspective on some of these typical resolutions. The dentists at Albritton and Ardovino Family Dentistry in Alabaster have great ideas for improving oral health, and Dr. Michael Patterson of Precision Sports Medicine & Orthopedics in Alabaster has suggestions related to bone, joint, and muscle health.

Dr. Ardovino Shares Tips to Improve Oral Health

Dental health should be a priority all year round, and the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to learn more about your teeth, gums, and how to keep them healthy.

The first thing everyone should do is make an appointment for a dental check-up or cleaning, or make sure you already have one scheduled. Adults and children should have these regular check-ups every six months. But in recent years, many people have put off healthcare appointments of all kinds, including going to the dentist. The consequences of not going to these regular appointments can be painful. Dr. Ann Ardovino says that when you go in for routine appointments, your doctors are able to catch problems or potential problems early, even before they become symptomatic. This can eliminate the need for major dental work.

“Take care of your teeth, because we only get one set of adult teeth,” she says. “Invest in your oral health, and focus on prevention with routine dental visits, oral hygiene, and good nutrition because oral health also correlates to overall systemic health.”

One factor to consider for oral health and overall health is smoking. Most people know that there are many reasons to stop smoking, but when you do, it can also improve your oral health. “Smoking cigarettes and using smokeless tobacco can cause gum and bone disease as well as oral cancer. Smoking also delays and impedes healing of gum tissue,” says Dr. Ardovino.

Another component to think about when it comes to improving oral health is sugar. While parents often tell their children not to eat too much sugar, and many adults avoid it for various health reasons, how important is limiting sugar really when it comes to your teeth and avoiding cavities? According to Dr. Ardovino, it actually is very important. “Sugar is extremely addictive and one of the hardest things to limit,” she says. “It’s important to limit sugar not only for your dental health, but for your entire body.”

From a dental perspective, she says that bacteria in the mouth metabolizes sugars, which then produces acids that weaken enamel, leading to tooth decay (caries). “Tooth decay can eventually lead to infection, which further increases the bad bacteria in the mouth, destroying supporting structures such as gums and bone,” she adds.

Regular visits to the dentist, quitting smoking, and limiting sugar are realistic but crucial resolutions for improving oral health. Dr. Ardovino says there are other things you can do every single day to keep your teeth in the best shape possible, such as brushing and flossing. We all know we’re supposed to do these things, but they are tasks often skipped or rushed through. “The most important time to brush and floss is before bedtime in order to get all the food out from the day, allowing the teeth to be clean for several hours,” she says.

Her last piece of advice applies to oral health and every other part of your body. “Eat healthy and make sure you have good nutrition,” she says. It will make a huge difference when it comes to your teeth and much more.

Dr. Patterson Shares Tips to Improve Orthopedic Health

Dr. Patterson urges anyone who is experiencing an orthopedic problem or pain to make an appointment to be evaluated. When issues are caught early, he says it may be possible to treat them non-operatively, but when left too long without intervention, problems can progress and worsen, and then surgery may be required.

 “The goal of treating orthopedic problems is trying to return a patient to their prior level of activity without limitation or pain,” Patterson says. For example, patients with degenerative arthritis in the knees or hips typically have long periods of intermittent pain and gradual limitation of their activity secondary to that pain. He says these patients do very well with joint replacement surgery, which allows them to return to their normal active lives without pain and without joint limitation.

 He adds that many orthopedic injuries are related to overuse or muscle strains, and these can be improved with conservative measures like medications and physical therapy that allow patients to return to their normal activity sooner.

Losing weight is a resolution made often, and it can help with orthopedics as well. “Unfortunately, a lot of patients struggle with their weight, which can lead to increased joint wear and muscle strains and sprains,” Patterson says. “We know that when you walk you put twice your bodyweight across your knees, and when you run, you put six times your body weight across your knees.” By losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, you will help limit the stress across your joints, especially your knees, hips, and ankles. He adds that weight gain can cause other medical issues that may limit a person’s ability to exercise.

For these reasons and many others, Dr. Patterson recommends that everyone  participate in regular exercise to help maintain body weight, increase muscle mass and strength, and help increase bone density. He says that for those who have diabetes and heart disease, he also recommends regular exercise to help limit the negative effects of these medical conditions.

While you may have made resolutions in the past to eat healthier, exercise more, or lose weight, why not add dental and orthopedic health to those goals this year? You will thank yourself down the line.