The holidays bring with them frantic last-minute shopping, an endless array of parties and gatherings, and of course, plenty of holiday treats. Unfortunately, the season also brings with it some extra stress as well as some poor oral health choices. While you don’t have to skip out on all the fun and festivities, you should follow a few tips to keep the holidays from sabotaging your oral health this year.
Tip #1 – Limit Your Sweets (and other starchy foods)
If sugar sits on your teeth, plaque starts building up, which can result in gum disease and tooth decay. This doesn’t mean you have to skip the dessert table altogether. Instead, try following the 80/20 rule. Make 80% of your food choices healthy and indulge in other 20%.
Just remember, starchy foods will also turn into sugar. This means you need to eat foods like mashed potatoes in moderation.
Tip #2 – Have Healthy Snacks on Hand
The best way to avoid overindulging in too many sugary treats is to make sure you have healthy snacks on hand throughout the season. Mixed nuts and crudites offer a healthy snack choice. If you’re throwing a party, include healthy options for your family and for others who want to keep their teeth and their body healthy this holiday season.
Tip #3 – Avoid the Candy Canes
Yes, they’re so tasty, and they’re a holiday tradition. However, biting into those candy canes wrong can result in a cracked or broken tooth. Steer clear of all hard candies and go with softer choices that won’t damage teeth.
Tip #4 – Don’t Use Your Teeth for the Wrong Things
It’s tempting to use your teeth to crack a nut, peel back the tape, or open packages. Don’t! Keep a nutcracker on hand for nuts and scissors handy for other tasks. You’ll save yourself the pain and expense of a broken tooth.
Tip #5 – Fill Up on Water
Even though the temperature is cooler, it’s still crucial to drink plenty of water. Water isn’t just important for your overall health, but it can help wash away leftover food particles in your mouth and dilutes acids produced by oral bacteria. When you can’t get away to brush your teeth immediately, swishing with some water can prove helpful.
Tip #6 – Save Sweets for Last
Sure, it’s fun to think about eating dessert first, but if you’re going to indulge in rich, sugary sweets, do it at the end of your meal. As you eat, saliva production begins increasing to assist with digestion. Since your body is already producing plenty of saliva, at the end of the meal is the best time to eat something sweet. Another benefit – you won’t be as hungry, so you’re less likely to overindulge.
Tip #7 – Stay on Track with Routine Oral Hygiene
When you’re having guests or traveling to visit family, it’s easy to get off track with your regular oral hygiene routine. Make sure you always have a toothbrush and toothpaste with you and be sure you’re still brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily. You may even want to brush a little earlier than usual in the evening to make it easier to avoid the temptation of grabbing a late evening piece of fruitcake or a couple more holiday cookies.
Tip #8 – Limit Your Red Wine
While it’s the season to indulge a bit, red wine can result in tooth stains. If you’re going to have red wine, pair it with food to reduce the risk of staining. A nice white wine is always a great choice as well.
Tip #9 – Watch the Fizzy Drinks
Fizzy drinks like soda and even carbonated waters all have acids in them that may cause tooth decay. Sodas can be even worse because they contain a lot of sugar. If you’re going to sip on something fizzy, make sure you drink with a straw so you keep most of the acid away from your teeth.
Tip #10 – Relax and Enjoy
Stress isn’t good for your body, and if you happen to clench or grind your teeth, it’s not good for your oral health either. Enjoy this time of year. Be present. Spend time with people you love. Make the holidays a bit simpler. Do whatever you can to relax and just enjoy the magic of the season.