The holidays can be hard on your teeth and gums. With all the lovely sugary, sticky, and delicious snacks available for us to eat, we might find ourselves with a toothache in the new year. Candy, cakes, pies, cookies, candy canes and more can be enjoyed with some efforts to maintain a healthy mouth. Follow these ten tips for a happy holiday smile and indulge in those festive favourites without concern.
1. Keep up your daily dental hygiene routine
Since you know you will be indulging at least a little during the holiday season, make sure that you follow your regular oral hygiene routine at minimum. Brush and floss carefully twice a day to clean your teeth and gums. It’s easy to forgo your usual routine during the holidays when you may be travelling and visiting loved ones.
2. Avoid extra sugary foods
In the spirit of the season, we tend to give ourselves permission to indulge in those lovely holiday treats and desserts. Perhaps you’re an avid baker, and you find it difficult not to dip a finger into the cookie bowl. Keep in mind, though, you may end up paying for all that extra sugar you consumed when it’s time to see your dentist. There are many things you can eat to curb your cravings for sugar and keep a bright smile over the festive season. Some foods can help lower sugar cravings, like whole grains and veggies — mix these in with other other enticing offerings to fill you up and protect your teeth.
3. Stick to water only, if you can
It’s always healthy to stay hydrated, but an additional benefit of drinking lots of water is that it washes bacteria and sugar off your teeth, the stuff that comes from eating all of those naughty (and delicious) sweet treats. Make sure to have plain, fresh water between other holiday beverages. Also note: mineral water could potentially damage your teeth.
4. Make it a cheesy holiday
Many fluids provided at holiday parties (including alcoholic drinks) are high in acid. Believe it or not, the answer to this is eating cheese! Cheese is quite high in alkaline, and as luck would have it, alkaline neutralizes acid. For every drink you have, grab a hunk of cheddar and enjoy.
5. Eat potatoes
Many of the foods you eat over the holidays are hard on the teeth, including sticky desserts, hard candies, and other foods that are prone to getting stuck in or on your pearly whites. Potatoes are delicious for many of us, and they are also great for the teeth because they don’t stick, not to mention being chock full of vitamins. They’re a versatile and easy food to include in every holiday meal.
6. Rinse after eating sticky or coloured foods
There’s an abundance of heavily coloured and sticky foods like cranberry sauce, chocolates, and candy that many of us consume over the holiday season. It’s a good idea to rinse your mouth with water after eating to make sure you get rid of all the excess food on your teeth. Even better, brush your teeth 20 minutes after every meal during this season if you can. And do make sure you book a check-up and cleaning after the holidays with a family dentist to take care of any overindulgences.
7. Avoid super-hard foods
Holidays are hard on teeth, but not as hard as nuts. Hard nuts are meant to be opened with a nutcracker, yet many people try to do this chore with their teeth. This can easily lead to a cracked tooth. Invest in a handy nutcracker and save yourself time and discomfort. Likewise, be careful when biting down on hard candy. Enjoy your nuts and candy slowly; try not to bite through the center and cause yourself pain and inconvenience.
8. Make your drinks clear and light
You may be a lover of red wine, but if you want to keep your teeth white and crisp-looking it’s not the best choice. Red wine may stain your teeth and require having them whitened. If you do enjoy your red wine, slip away and swish your mouth with water in the washroom after you enjoy a glass. The same is true for any other beverages (like coffee, tea, and soft drinks) that tend to stain the teeth. Give them a pass, and stick to light-coloured drinks.
9. Pick up some cinnamon gum and start chewing
Besides being delicious and an excellent breath-freshener, cinnamon gum is actually an incredible teeth-cleaning product. This is because it contains xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener responsible for the unique taste of the cinnamon gum. Cinnamon gum does not contain any real cinnamon extract, it is artificially simulated with chemicals that may efficiently clean your teeth and rid them of harmful bacteria. The chemicals are released slowly as you chew the gum, and starving harmful microorganisms and clearing them away.
10. Don’t your teeth as a bottle opener
Your teeth are not tools. Using your teeth to open difficult items may cause cracks and chips. This could be painful and ruin your party. Invest in a couple of extra bottle openers, and keep your teeth intact.
Now that you know how to protect your teeth from damage over the holidays, you can relax and enjoy your feasting without fear. It’s worth your while to make some small adjustments to your holiday eating habits so you can have an enjoyable season.
It’s always a good idea to make an appointment for a check-up and a cleaning after the holiday so we can give your mouth a thorough exam. Begin your new year with a fresh, beautiful smile.
For healthy holiday teeth, give Lambton Shores Family Dental a call at (519) 704-1400. We offer the latest techniques and technology combined with a comfortable environment and a warm, caring team. We also provide same-day emergency dentist services in Forest and Kettle Point for unexpected events. Check out our complete list of services and options.