When it comes to taking care of your teeth during the holidays, tempting treats, festive drinks and fun get-togethers are just some of the things that make the holidays the most awaited season of the year. Indulging too much in these well-loved traditions, however, may not always be great for your teeth.
But don’t worry! Keeping your smile healthy during the holidays doesn’t need to be complicated.
What you simply need is a plan. You need to make a commitment to the basic rules of good oral care: practicing proper dental hygiene and being mindful of your food and drink choices.
When you’re right in the midst of all the festivities, the last thing you want is a dental emergency (or too many trips to the dentist).
Unfortunately, it’s a common scenario. The demand for dental visits and dental emergency treatments spikes during this time of the year. Statistics have also shown that many dental injuries occur during the Christmas-New Year weeks.
Watch out for holiday-specific factors that can wreak havoc on your dental health, including:
● Too much sugary foods and drinks — and not being able to clean your teeth in between mealtimes.
● Sticky, chewy holiday treats such as caramels that can do damage to prior dental work. They also tend to cling to the nooks and crannies of the teeth, making them hard to clean and increasing your risk of getting tooth decay.
● Nuts, hard candies and other holiday snacks that can cause teeth to chip or crack.
● Busy social schedules, travel and routine changes that affect daily toothbrushing and teeth cleaning regimen.
● Holiday stress and anxiety that sometimes trigger teeth-damaging habits such as tooth grinding or nail-biting.
Keeping your teeth in tip-top shape during the holidays
Give yourself the gift of a healthy smile during the holidays and beyond with these practical tips.
1. Snack smartly.
Opting for healthy choices doesn’t mean depriving yourself of the delectable snacks you deserve to enjoy. But keep in mind that there’s more to holiday fare than the usual sweet treats. This is the time to experiment with other treats that are delightfully yummy and good for your teeth too!
Teeth-Healthy Treats for the Holidays (and Other Ordinary Lovely Days)
Remember, presentation matters. Cut up in attractive shapes and serve on festive plates and platters:
● Charcuterie board featuring a variety of meats, cheeses, olives, mustard and dips (skip the hard nuts!)
● Cheese plate
● Hummus, cottage cheese, sugar-free jams and sugar-free nut butters as dips for pita bread
● Crunchy fruits and veggies such as apples and celery (loaded with vitamins and help clean the teeth!), with dips, as salad, or as is
● Savoury bites such as mini snags, sausage sliders, skewered prawns
● Savoury baked treats such as pies, scones, Vegemite and cheese muffins
2. Drink wisely.
Consume sugary drinks, from sodas to fruit juices to fancy punch, in moderation. Opt for a straw to minimise the chances of the liquid getting in contact with your teeth. Drink water alongside your glass of red, as it helps neutralise the enamel-damaging acids from the wine.
3. Equip yourself.
Traveling? Attending get-togethers left and right? Busy with all the holiday errands? Then create an alarm reminding you when it’s time to brush and floss. Also, carry a small dental care kit with you so you get to stick to your oral care routine — no matter where your next holiday adventures take you.
Drink water — lots of it! It clears up sugar residue, food particles and other foreign elements in your mouth in between toothbrushes. Alternatively, you can chew sugarless gum as it induces saliva production, which helps in washing away acids from bacteria-eating sugars.
5. Ease up on the drinking and smoking (or quit as your resolution for the new year).
These habits are associated with an array of conditions, from gum disease to gum tissue and bone loss to bad breath. Studies have also shown that the combination of these two elements increases oral cancer risk by a significant percentage. Alcohol makes the mouth dehydrated, making its wall cells more permeable to the carcinogens from the tobacco.
6. Practice self-care.
Nail-biting and teeth grinding, which can lead to tooth breakage and other dental emergencies, are some manifestations of unmanaged stress. Holiday stress is quite common, but don’t wait for the tipping point. Always make space for you to breathe deeply and relax during the fun, sometimes frantic festivities. Self-care — including caring for your mental and dental health — is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself and your loved ones no matter the season.
7. Pay your dentist a visit.
Did you know that the holidays can be the busiest time of the year for most dental clinics? So book your appointment early. In fact, this should be your priority. Before all the festivities start, take the time first to get a thorough checking and cleaning from your trusted dental team.
Regular dental visits also allow your dentist to detect any dental issues and save you from getting a toothache or other dental problems during the season. With a clean bill of dental health, you can spread the holiday cheers with a healthy and confident smile.
At Whitfords Dental Centre, our wish is for you and your family to enjoy the holidays without worries.
Give yourself the gift of healthy teeth this year. Speak to our friendly team today.