If you’ve got a sweet tooth, there’s no better time of year than the holidays. Pumpkin pie, candy canes, apple cider, fudge, and gingerbread are just some of the seasonal treats that await. It may be a confectioner’s paradise, but it’s a nightmare for oral hygienists. All that snacking takes a toll on oral health, as prolonged exposure to sugary treats can lead to problems like periodontal disease and tooth decay. But you can still celebrate the season without cutting out the sweet stuff. Here are some tips to keep your teeth happy and healthy throughout the holidays.
Chocolate may get a bad rap, but it’s not the one you need to worry about when it comes to sweet snacks. Fruity and gummy foods that stick to your teeth present a greater danger for oral health. Treats like dried fruit, caramel, taffy, and pecan pie cling to your teeth, which increases the amount of time for bacteria to produce enamel-destroying acids. Sticky foods also carry a risk of pulling out fillings or obstructing crowns. Try to avoid these products, but if you can’t resist, limit your snacking and be sure to follow the next tip.
Rinse and Repeat
Drinking water offers a lot of health benefits, and one of them is keeping your teeth clean. When you eat sweets, especially sticky ones, it leaves residue on your teeth that invites cavity-causing bacteria to blossom. Rinsing after snacking helps wash away the acid and leftover particles that damage teeth and gums. Acids that can stain teeth also are present in holiday beverages like eggnog, hot cocoa, and spiced wines, so rinse after drinking. For extra protection, drink with a straw when possible. It helps minimize the amount of acids and sugars that come in contact with your teeth.
Don’t Pass on Dessert
If you must eat sweets, the best time to do it is with a meal. While dining, we experience increased production of saliva, the body’s natural defense against plaque. The extra saliva helps wash sticky and sweet residue from our teeth while also neutralizing acid production.
More Rest, Less Stress
Stress has a direct impact on wellness, and dental health is no exception. Holiday travel, shopping, traffic, family visits, and other seasonal demands can result in increased anxiety and pressure that might manifest in clenching or grinding teeth and the resulting jaw pain and headaches. Try to space out activities and be sure to invest in at least eight hours of sleep each night.
Treat Your Teeth
Your sweet tooth may crave candy and cookies, but what your teeth really need is regular brushing and flossing. It’s always important to brush teeth at least twice a day, but it takes on added significance during the holidays when intake of sweets increases. Brushing after feasts and parties will protect your teeth, and can also be a helpful appetite suppressant, as individuals are less inclined to eat after brushing. Flossing should be done at least once a day, and floss picks offer a valuable alternative for those on the go or in a rush.
The holiday season is also the perfect time to schedule a dental visit. The doctors and staff at Ellicott Mills Dental know how to treat your teeth right. You’ll love how your teeth look and feel after a dental exam and professional cleaning, so call us today. We’re always accepting new patients, and we’re happy to schedule an appointment that fits into your busy holiday schedule.