The holiday season can be tough on your teeth. With snackable treats available everywhere, sticky candies at parties, and sweets served with abandon; your teeth need some extra TLC during this time of the year. There are some ways to take care of your teeth and keep your smile healthy from Halloween through New Year’s Eve. Keep these holiday dental tips in mind if you want to protect your pearly whites.
Even as busy as the holiday season gets, don’t neglect your regular brushing and flossing routine. The best advice among holiday dental tips is to continue to brush and floss at least twice a day after meals. For holiday traveling, always pack a toothbrush and floss to ensure you don’t forget to care for your teeth while on the road.
If you have a regularly scheduled cleaning or dental checkup during the holidays, don’t be tempted to skip it. Try to schedule your appointment around holiday parties or during the day, if possible. Continuing regular care for your teeth both at home and from scheduled cleanings at your dentist’s office will help protect your teeth from damage caused by holiday foods and drinks.
Too many acidic foods or drinks, like citrus-based concoctions, can damage the enamel on your teeth. Worn enamel can make your teeth look discolored, stain more easily, and increase sensitivity. However, you don’t have to completely give up holiday oranges, wassail, or apple cider. Enjoy these and other food and drinks in moderation, preferably with meals.
If you indulge in acidic foods or drinks, wait at least 30 minutes before brushing. This waiting period will help your mouth’s saliva neutralize the acid, not just to brush it over your teeth and damage the enamel.
Cavities happen when you eat food, and bacteria start to break down the sugars and create tooth-damaging acids. To keep this from happening, you can brush after eating, especially sweet foods. However, brushing after every snack is difficult. Instead, enjoy your holiday sweets just after your regular meals and brush normally after.
When you eat sweets with other foods, your mouth’s saliva helps offset the chemical effects of bacteria-produced acid. After your meals, brush and remove food particles stuck in your mouth that could continue to feed those microbes.
Snacking at holiday parties and gatherings often happen between your regular mealtimes. Don’t feel that you have to give up noshing at events because you want to keep your teeth healthy. In fact, many holiday foods fit well into a healthy eating plan for your teeth.
Cheese and nuts are both commonly served during the holidays. These non-starchy options don’t leave sugar stuck to your teeth for hours until you can brush again. Plus, they taste great. Also, feel free to indulge in the fresh-cut vegetables on the hors d’oeuvre tray. Carrots, celery, fresh broccoli, and cauliflower are all flavorful, crunchy, low-starch snacks.
Starting with caramel apples in the fall and ending with dried fruit filled-fruitcakes at Christmas, the holiday season has many chances for your teeth to encounter sticky foods. Perhaps one of the most important holiday dental tips is keeping your intake of sticky foods to a minimum. These foods stay on your teeth longer, and their sugar provides an ideal environment for cavity-causing bacteria to flourish.
If you want a caramel apple, taffy, dried fruit, or sticky toffee pudding, enjoy it in moderation. Rinse your mouth out after you finish eating and brush your teeth shortly after to reduce the impact the sticky foods have on your oral health.
Just because holiday nutcrackers use their wooden teeth to break open nuts does not mean that you should do the same. Tearing open packages or cracking nuts with your teeth can lead to serious problems, such as cracked or broken teeth. Instead of using your teeth to break open nuts, invest in a nutcracker. If you don’t have a nutcracker, you can wrap the nuts in a towel and gently tap them with a hammer to break open the shells. For opening packages, use scissors or a box cutter. Your teeth should only be used for chewing and not to replace household tools.
Holiday parties often come with copious amounts of alcoholic beverages to fuel the festivities. Since most holiday dental tips focus on sugary foods, you may not be aware that what you drink can also impact your oral health. Even straight liquor with little sugar in it can still affect your teeth. Plus, wines, Irish coffees, buttered rums, and other holiday tipples have copious amounts of sugar. But what makes these drinks so detrimental to your oral health?
First, alcohol dries out your mouth. You may also talk a lot, catching up with friends and family during holiday events, which can also dry out your mouth. A dry mouth means that you don’t have as much saliva to neutralize acids that can cause tooth decay, leading to a greater chance of cavities.
Secondly, drinking alcohol can make it more difficult to remember to keep to your brushing and flossing schedule, especially if you occasionally overdo the drinks. Set the alarm on your phone if you need a reminder to make sure that you brush at least twice a day.
Lastly, drinking alcohol can make it more difficult to remember and follow other holiday dental tips such as avoiding too many sticky snacks or eating sugary foods with meals. Again, having an alarm on your phone can help you to remember these tips. Having a friend who serves as the designated driver can also help you with verbal reminders if you need them.
The most important thing to remember is to enjoy your holiday season. Following these holiday dental tips and scheduling regular appointments for cleanings and exams will help you keep your teeth looking great and stay healthy into the New Year. If you need a dental appointment for a regular checkup or have a concern that needs more immediate care, contact us at Langley Dental Care in Charlotte, NC.