As the holidays approach, it’s easy to get caught up in eating delicious treats like cookies, pies, candy and cakes. However, those sweet treats can do a number on your oral health, especially if you overindulge. So what’s a holiday-loving, dental health conscious person to do? Here are the top 10 tips for enjoying the season AND keeping your dental health from falling by the wayside.
1. Include treats as a part of the main meal instead of snacking on sweets throughout the day (or throughout the duration of holiday parties). This will keep the acids produced by bacteria in your mouth from lingering on your teeth throughout the rest of the day or night.
2. Stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water is a great way to keep your mouth healthy. Water is an especially important beverage if you can’t brush your teeth for quite a while after you indulge in holiday sweets. Rinsing out your mouth with water (preferably water containing fluoride) will help to wash away food particles and bacteria.
3. Cheese is a healthy after meal snack that tastes great and helps neutralize acids that attack and soften tooth enamel. The calcium in cheese is great for your teeth too!
4. Satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit instead of cookies, cake and candy. If you’re still craving sweets, but have already indulged, reach for the fruit tray instead.
5. Don’t forget to eat your vegetables. Veggies like carrots and broccoli are loaded with Vitamin A which strengthens the enamel on your teeth.
6. Chew sugar-free gum after eating sweets or any acidic food or beverage. Chewing sugar-free gum increases the flow of saliva, which washes away food and other debris. It also neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth. Chewing gum will also keep your mouth busy – keeping you from reaching for yet another cookie or slice of pie.
7. Avoid eating hard candy. Hard candy can crack or chip a tooth if you bite down too hard. This is not only painful, but it can be expensive to repair. Sticky candy isn’t much better, since caramels and chewy candies are notorious for pulling out a filling or damaging braces.
8. It is a good idea to avoid sodas, energy or sports drinks. Many people believe that regular soda is bad for your teeth because of its high sugar content, but to be honest, diet sodas can also damage enamel because of the acidity.
9. Keep up with your dental hygiene routine by brushing at least twice a day for two minutes and flossing at least once a day. Make sure to use a toothpaste containing fluoride that has earned the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.
10. Don’t skip your scheduled dental visit. The holidays are definitely a busy time, but it’s so important to make time for your oral health. If you are due for a teeth cleaning or need to visit the dentist during the holiday months, keep that appointment!
During the holidays, it’s nearly impossible to stay away from sweets and that’s ok! Enjoying the holiday season doesn’t have to mean abandoning all the good oral health habits you’ve created throughout the year. Following the 10 tips listed above will give you even more reason to smile during the holidays!