Guess who loves eating holiday treats as much as you do? Friends? Yup. Family? Uh-huh. Kids? You betcha. And guess who else? The bacteria in your mouth.
Ew. How’s that for sucking the joy out of your holiday dining?
But celebrants need not be overly concerned. A few simple steps taken during holiday meals, get-togethers, and parties can minimize damage to your teeth and gums, and keep your dental work – including orthodontia – intact.
First, the facts:
Eating and drinking sugary foods and drinks for prolonged periods of time increase your chances of gum disease and tooth decay. And let’s face it, there is nothing like a holiday get-together to keep folks mindlessly indulging on whatever is in front of them…for hours on end.
Now, while it would be ideal for our health, waistlines, and teeth to avoid certain fare altogether, barring the strongest willpower imaginable, it’s probably not going to happen. Celebrations beget temptations, and holidays are a time to relax, splurge, and enjoy.
A little preparation, however, can go a long way in managing dental health and damage control. A few experts across the web collectively suggest these oral health tips:
- Eat sweets WITH (rather than after) your meal. The excess saliva will help wash down the sugar so it doesn’t linger on your teeth.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day (see above).
- Eat and serve dairy items at the same time as sweets (milk and cheese), to act as buffers to damaging acids.
- Take a multivitamin. Vitamins C and D, in particular, help keep bacteria at bay.
- Get plenty of rest during the holidays. A minimum of 8 hours’ sleep plays a role in your overall health, including your dental health.
- Carrots, celery, and apples should be among the foods you offer/create/eat, as they are natural mouth cleansers.
It’s no surprise that sweets are not recommended when it comes to protecting your teeth and safeguarding your dental work, but some, while they may taste very nice, are particularly naughty.
Be especially careful with:
- Candy canes (teeth and dental work, beware!)
- Peppermint bark (you should break this into small pieces and then dip the pieces into milk, coffee, or tea to soften)
- Christmas cookies
- Gingerbread (see Peppermint bark, above)
- Caramels, taffy, peanut brittle, and pecan pie (the stickier the treat, the more damaging it is)
- Holiday drinks (eggnog, cider, and hot chocolate…oh, my)
- Wine (red AND white cause discoloration and make holes in teeth)
- Popcorn (caramel coated or not; and be careful of kernels)
- Crackers (they lodge in your molars)
- Nuts (of particular importance, do NOT crack shells open with your teeth)
Your best practices include limiting these foods and brushing more often (for two- to three-minutes a session, more than twice a day). Remember, the holidays are a great time to improve your self-care. Most folks are more relaxed and have a few days off from work: Perfect timing to step-up your routine.
We don’t want your holiday to go from ho-ho-ho to ho-ho-hum (or worse), so please, to avoid dental damage of any kind, plan ahead and be aware.
Do you carry a travel brush with you during the holidays or lay low around dessert time after a five-course, family dinner? Let us know what oral health tips you abide by during the holidays in your comments below!