The holiday season creates a smorgasbord of delicious treats. From one celebratory meal to the next, it feels like we’re always eating. And while many people try to maintain their weight during the holidays, how many of us actually pay attention to our oral health and hygiene?
As the treats stare at you this holiday season, try to be more mindful of how all the indulging at holiday feasts might play a role in your oral health. Here are a few tips for taking care of your oral health during the holidays.
Keep Your Smile Pearly White
Make sure to present a clean-looking, sparkling smile this holiday season! Filled with memory-making photos and in-person video chats, you want your teeth to be bright and your smile attractive. One handy device you can take advantage of is a teeth whitening pen, which gives you that just-brushed look, coating the surface of your teeth and preventing new stains–like that of wine and coffee–from setting. Before indulging in some wine or hot cocoa, brush your teeth with the pen and keep stains away! A convenient on-the-go solution is a tooth stain eraser, which allows you to remove stains anywhere you are.
Go Easy on the Sweets and Acidic Foods and Drinks
The holiday season is packed with sweet treats–from cookies to pies to even candy canes. But to take better care of your oral health during the holidays, try to limit yourself. To say excessive sweets can produce cavities is just a start. When the sugar combines with bacteria, it can create acidic fluids that wear away your tooth’s enamel, causing all kinds of hygiene issues. Instead, go easy on the treats, and when you do indulge, drink a glass of water to remove any excess sugar and bacteria buildup. Since rinsing with water alone will not remove everything, brush your teeth as soon as possible, too!
Use That Nutcracker
While they’re not exactly sweet, nuts can still wreak havoc on your chompers. Walnuts, pecans and, heck, even pistachios have stubborn hard outer shells that can be challenging to crack. But don’t take the challenges on yourself. Instead, use a good old-fashioned nutcracker. Whether you choose a mannequin-style toy or a metal tool, let a nutcracker get the job done for you. As tempting of a puzzle as it might be, never use your teeth to crack nuts! It can cause severe damage and you might end up with a broken tooth.
Nutcrackers aside, in general, just avoid using your teeth to open anything! If you find yourself trying to rip open an annoying plastic bag between your teeth, step away and grab the proper tool for the job. Scissors, for example. However excited you might be to tear into that gift, using your teeth to rip it open like a wild animal can result in cracked and–worse–even a crown. So do yourself a favor and keep some cutting tools close at hand.
Keep Up with Your Brushing Routine
It’s easy to forget to brush our teeth when hosting guests and family or crashing after a long day of gift shopping, making dinner for the family and wrapping said gifts. However, be diligent and try to brush at least twice a day! Three times to get on Santa’s good list. If you must, set a reminder or carry a portable toothbrush and toothpaste. Try to floss at least once a day to remove stuck food and scrape away bacteria growth, preventing bad breath and more. At the very least, carry some sugarless gum to help produce saliva and flush out food particles.
Honor Dentist Appointments
Yes, the holidays are one of the busiest times of the year. But it’s important to practice self-care, too. If your checkup suddenly pops up on your calendar in December, and you totally forgot, honor the appointment! Skipping a dental exam and pushing it off until next year could create more problems in the long run. It’s much better to address any cavities that need filling and teeth that need cleaning pronto! After all, you’ll be consuming a lot of rich foods this holiday season.
Many dental offices close during the holidays, so it pays to be prepared! If you crack a tooth on some delicious hard candy or lose a filling somewhere between that glass of wine and Christmas ham, you need to know what to do. Here are a few ways to mend yourself until you can get in to see your dentist.
Have an Emergency Kit on Hand
Everyone has a first aid kit in their home, but maybe we should all have a small first aid kit for our teeth, too. In this kit, be sure to pack dental floss, gauze for any open wounds and an over-the-counter pain reliever. Of course, keep your dental benefits policy number on you at all times in a wallet, just in case. You never know what might happen.
Locate an Emergency Dental Clinic
Since most dental offices close up shop during the holidays, it means you may not be able to get in touch with your regular dentist in the event of an emergency. Instead of assuming that nothing can go wrong, make sure you have a back-up emergency dental clinic. Your regular dentist can give you a referral and list a few suggestions of oral-specific urgent care clinics in the local area.
Treat Oral Issues Immediately
If you have a broken tooth, lost filling or feel the slightest tinge from a possible cavity, don’t delay a trip to the dentist. If you wait until after the new year, it could worsen and even cause you significant pain. Even if you’re out of town, you can seek out a local dentist to take a look at the issue and perform procedures, if necessary. Addressing oral problems as they arise can prevent further, more severe issues from occurring.
Source: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock.com
Learn how to care for your oral health during the holidays and you’ll have a gorgeous smile for those festive family photos! Plus, it might just save you a trip to an emergency dental clinic. Eat sweets in moderation and stay on top of your brushing routine to keep those pearly whites sparkling. But more importantly, enjoy the holidays!