The holidays are here and with them come all the joys of the season – lights and decorations, time with friends and family, and those special treats we only get this time of year. Unfortunately, the special treats we love so much can lead to damaged teeth and an unwanted trip to the dentist, which will definitely not have you feeling holly and jolly. We don’t want you to miss out on all the fun, but we do want you to keep your oral health intact, so we’ve pulled together a few tips to help you care for your teeth during this festive time of the year.
1. Remember, teeth aren’t present-openers or nutcrackers.
This sounds like a no-brainer, but when an inpatient child hands you a toy double sealed in Teflon-strength packaging, your instinct might be to do whatever you can to rip it open. Do yourself a favor; resist the urge and seek out a pair of scissors! The same goes for cracking nutshells. Forgoing the real nutcrackers will save you thirty seconds but might cost you a broken tooth and an expensive dental bill.
Teeth are great for many things – think chewing and enunciating – but they do not make good tools. Using your teeth to open bottles, packages, crack nuts, etc. weakens the enamel and fragile edges of your teeth. In turn, this leads to tooth cracking and breakage, and likely costly cosmetic dental work.
2. Watch what you eat and drink!
Grandma’s homemade caramels may only come once a year, but if you’re not careful, your teeth could pay the price for the next twelve months. This sticky substance, and others like it (hello toffee), clings to dental work and tooth enamel long after it’s eaten. Plus, when it’s drizzled on popcorn, the gooey-covered pieces tend to get lodged between teeth leaving you picking at your molars. When selecting sweets, a good rule of thumb is that sugar should stay in the mouth as briefly as possible (we’re looking at you, candy cane).
If you’re like most of us, candy canes and cookies aren’t the only treats you indulge in during the holidays. If the merriest time of year includes seasonal favorites such as mulled wine and pomegranate cosmopolitans, you might be ringing in the New Year with a tainted smile.
The color in beverages comes from chromogens, which can attach to tooth enamel that has been weakened by the acid in alcohol, resulting in stained teeth. One way to enjoy your favorite festive beverage and still have a sparkling smile for New Year’s is to use a straw to drink colored alcoholic beverages. Opting for light-colored or clear drinks is another way to keep your teeth white.
3. If you imbibe, don’t forget to add the cheese.
Everyone loves a bit of eggnog or a champagne cocktail during the holidays. However, even light-colored or clear alcoholic beverages have a high acid content, which can damage tooth enamel. To cut the acid content without avoiding holiday toasts, try nibbling on a chunk of cheese between sips. The alkaline in the cheese neutralizes the acid in the beverage. Bonus - they both taste great!
4. Drink plenty of water.
Drinking water has many health benefits, especially during the holidays when you’re likely out and about and want to look and feel your best. Not only does water keep your skin looking fresh and hydrated, it also freshens your breath and aids in digestion and elimination. When it comes to healthy teeth, another advantage of drinking water is that it can clean away newly formed bacteria, helping you to stay cavity-free during this sweetest time of year! Carry a water bottle or keep a glass nearby for a quick rinse while indulging.
5. Stick to your oral health routine.
Taking a break from our daily routine is part of what makes the holidays special, but it can also make it challenging to get “back to normal” once the decorations are put away. Even if you’re traveling this season, set an intention to stick to your daily oral health regimen. Making it a point to stick to twice-daily brushing and regular flossing will not only keep your smile photo-ready, but it will also leave one less thing to get back to in January (like the gym).
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Remember, when it comes to oral hygiene, prevention is better than treatment any time of year. Ultimately, while it’s wise to drink substantial amounts of water and not overindulge in sugary snacks, following a dental care routine year-round is the best way to preserve your teeth this season.
Do you need a checkup before or after the Holiday season ends? Give us a call today to schedule an appointment and keep your dental health in check!