Finishing The Climb

Long-term Dental Health takes Discipline

There’s a hiking trail, about a mile behind my house.It’s one of those college-letter-on-the-mountain hikes that hosts a ritual pilgrimage of half-wasted football fans on the night of every local game.But on every other day, it’s not so bad.For me, practicing a healthy lifestyle means occasionally getting out of the city and into nature, and this hike’s proximity to my house makes that possible.

The first time I tried the hike, I couldn’t make it halfway.The incline sometimes hits 15% (that’s pretty steep) and the trail didn’t have much in the way of shade on the cloudless July afternoon so I decided to hike it.It’s something of a notorious rite of passage for BYU students.I wasn’t satisfied.I wanted to see the fabled #14 trail marker at the end of the final leg of the climb. 

I hiked the Y every single day that summer, slowly but surely growing in strength and endurance.By the end of the year, I could run up and down the whole thing twice in less time than it took me to climb halfway up on that first day. 

Health isn’t a sprint; it’s not a quick burst of energy with a break at the end.Health is a marathon.Physical fitness requires little steps, taken every day, over long periods of time.When I hiked the Y everyday that summer, my body became stronger.I improved physically until my body was up to the task of completing the hike. 

In the world of dental health, this is the equivalent of actually brushing your teeth for two minutes (instead of thirty seconds), turning flossing into a daily habit, and lowering your sugar consumption throughout the day.

But in hiking the Y, my physical fitness wasn’t the only thing that changed.I also learned how to exercise smarter. 

When I first started hiking, I would go on my lunch break, hike for 45ish minutes, and then turn back.This was great for my schedule, but horrible for my experience on the trail.The mountain was an inferno in the summer.I had to carry a 2-liters of water just to make sure I didn’t get heat stroke by the end.I also had to stop frequently for breaks in the limited shade the bushes and shrubs on the side of the trail offered.

I was allowing what was convenient for me to negatively impact my positive actions towards improving my physical fitness.When I started thinking of ways to improve my daily climbs, I realized that hiking in the middle of the afternoon (although advantageous from a scheduling perspective) was holding me back.If I started earlier, before the sun came up, there would be plenty of shade on the trail and the air temperature would be cooler.

Once I started hiking in the morning, I uncovered my true potential.I could climb longer between breaks, I didn’t worry about heat stroke or over-exerting myself.I started focusing on my speed, on pushing myself to improve, rather than if I was going to make it.

Planning for the future, budgeting, and buying dental insurance work on this same principle.Though you may be putting the time in and making all of the right decisions for your mental health, if you don’t also plan for the future, budget for dental appointments, and buy insurance that you know will give you good coverage, you won’t prioritize seeing a dentist and preserving your teeth when the time comes.Or, when that time comes, you might not have the money to see a health professional capable of fixing your issue without insurance.Things can go wrong without warning despite extensive preventative care.You can’t be caught unprepared when a dental emergency happens.

Health is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.The most effective changes you can make to improve your dental health are the ones that happen regularly, month to month.Also, if you make smarter decisions about your dental health, you can be ready for emergencies when they come.

TDA’s dental insurance helps you prepare for those emergencies, while saving you money on regular dental visits.They have one of the largest provider networks in their area, partnering with more than 3800 access points in Arizona and Utah.They also give you access to all of their payment plans online 24/7, whether or not you’ve signed up yet.You can budget to see which will fit with your lifestyle right now.

Click here to find out how you can start preparing for the future and ensuring your long-term dental health with TDA.