For many, the holidays really are the most wonderful time of the year. But for your teeth, that can be a whole other story. Follow these five dental health tips to keep your smile merry and bright long after the holidays:
1. Go easy on the sweet stuff – Candy canes, eggnog and cookies – oh my! It’s tough to avoid sugary desserts, drinks and candies during the holiday season. That doesn’t mean you can’t indulge, but do it sensibly. The more you snack, the more sugar you expose your teeth to and the greater your risk for tooth decay. Instead, choose one time of day for dessert and brush your teeth afterward.
2. Crunch time – Be careful with foods that are very sticky or crunchy. One wrong bite, and you could end up with a cracked tooth. Instead, let hard candies dissolve in your mouth and nibble on crunchy items like peanut brittle, nuts and toffee. And don’t use your teeth as tools for opening presents, cutting ribbon or cracking nuts!
3. Keep up with good habits – Last minute holiday shopping, New Year’s parties, family potlucks – there’s no denying the holidays can be a hectic time. But don’t let the busy season deter you from keeping up with good dental health habits. Always brush twice a day and floss daily.
For times you can’t brush, like holiday party hopping and traveling, keep a pack of sugar-free gum with xylitol on hand. The sugar-free sweetener is known for its cavity-fighting properties.1 And last, but certainly not least, stick to a healthy diet and drink plenty of water in between celebrations. Drinking plenty of water dilutes enamel-eating acids produced by sugary holiday treats.
4. Say cheese! – If you plan on drinking during the festivities, you may want to head to the cheese plate. Cheese has pH balancing effects that can help neutralize the acid in alcoholic beverages.2 Plus, dairy products contain calcium and phosphorus, which are minerals that help strengthen and repair tooth enamel.
5. Have an emergency backup plan – Many dental offices close their offices during the holidays, so ask your dentist for a referral in case of emergency. If you’re traveling, locate the nearest emergency dental clinic and keep your dental policy benefits number handy. If you do have an emergency, don’t delay treatment. Putting off treatment for something like a cracked tooth can make the problem much worse.
These five tips can help keep your mouth in tip-top shape, but be sure to schedule a regular check-up and cleaning as soon as the festivities are over. After all, there’s no better way to start the new year than with a healthy, beautiful smile!