Taking care of your smile is important any time of year, but it’s especially important during the holiday season when hectic schedules and increased snacking can take a toll on your oral health.
Fortunately, you can still prioritize your oral care while enjoying the festivities of the holidays. As a result, you can ring in the New Year with a bright smile, healthy gums, and breath that won’t make the mistletoe wither.
What are some simple oral care tips to help you have a healthy smile this holiday season? Here are our top five tips so you can smile bright well into the New Year.
Oral Care Tips to Protect Your Teeth This Holiday Season
- Minimize Constant Snacking
Snacking isn’t necessarily bad for your health, but it can expose your teeth to more acids that can damage tooth enamel.
Even if you’re not eating poorly, eating frequently and not giving your oral cavity a chance to rebalance its pH or bacteria may increase your risk for tooth decay. The risk increases if the snacks you’re eating contain added sugar, such as baked goods.
To help keep your teeth strong and healthy, put the brakes on snacking this holiday season. Have designated snack times and don’t eat outside of these times unless you have to. In other words, it’s best not to sit and consume food all day long, even if you aren’t eating that much.
Some of the healthiest foods for snacking include fresh fruit, cheese, nuts, and vegetables, so break out what you need for a cheese or veggie tray and avoid keeping cookies, gingerbread, candy canes, and other holiday treats in sight so you can keep your body and your smile healthy.
2. Prioritize Drinking Water
Even though alcoholic drinks seem to be everywhere during the holiday season, not to mention soft drinks, it’s essential to prioritize drinking water.
Water has a few key benefits for your smile. It helps replenish saliva in the oral cavity, which can protect teeth from sugars, acids, and bacteria that can damage tooth enamel. However, water also helps reduce the staining effect of drinks such as cola and wine, which can help protect your tooth color and keep your teeth brighter.
Keep water with you if you’re traveling this holiday season and try to get at least six to eight cups of water per day, depending on your weight, activity level, and sodium intake. And if you’re consuming lots of sweets or acidic foods and drinks, sipping water during your meals can help reduce the impact of these foods and drinks on your oral health.
3. Don’t Misuse Your Teeth
Your teeth aren’t meant to open packages, crack nuts, or chew on ice. Misusing your teeth in this way is one of the most common ways people experience a dental emergency such as a cracked or chipped tooth, damaged dental restoration, or gum laceration.
Avoid using your teeth as tools to open packages or gifts and instead have a pair of scissors or a knife nearby. Cracking nuts, chewing on fingernails, and chewing on ice are all practices that can damage your teeth, so by avoiding them, you can help protect your smile and skip a visit to an emergency dentist or the emergency room this holiday.
Teeth are meant for chewing food and to help you speak properly—and not to mention smiling!—so keep this in mind before you misuse your teeth this holiday season.
4. Keep a Dental Kit on Hand
With all the chaos of the holiday season, it’s unfortunately not difficult to let your oral health fall off your to-do list. With changing routines, guests, and holiday events, it’s not uncommon to skip brushing and flossing occasionally during this time.
However, keeping up with your oral health during the holiday season is even more important, considering the increased sugar and alcohol intake many people engage in. The good news is that you can help keep your smile healthy and make it easy to care for your teeth and gums even when traveling by keeping a dental kit on hand.
A dental kit can contain the contact information of local emergency dentists for dental emergencies, floss, and spare toothbrushes and toothpaste in case you forget your arsenal of oral care products when traveling or simply need a refresher before an event.
You can even carry flossing aids, whitening strips, sugar-free chewing gum, and gauze for an emergency in your kit. It can be small enough to fit in your carry-on, car, or purse for all your festivities this holiday season.
5. De-Stress When Possible
Although it’s virtually impossible to avoid stress this time of year, take time to de-stress when you can. Stress has more of an impact on your oral health than you might think.
Increased mental and emotional stress increases your risk for teeth grinding, which puts immense pressure on teeth and can lead to fractures, an increased risk for dental injuries, and even gum inflammation. Teeth grinding can also increase jaw and facial pain and may influence your risk for temporomandibular (TMJ) disorders.
Stress can also impact your immune system. Your immune system plays a vital role in your oral health by keeping your gums healthy. However, when your immune system is compromised, you may be more likely to develop gum disease as a result of chronic inflammation.
So what can you do? Take time off where possible, say no when you can, and know that you don’t have to do it all this holiday season. Schedule some time when you have nothing to do and can relax—after all, the holidays are a time to enjoy!
Schedule Your Next Dental Checkup
The holidays are the perfect time to schedule a dental checkup for kids who have time off from school or for adults who have vacation time they need to use and insurance benefits that expire at the end of the year. Contact Saunders DDS today at (828) 277-6060 or use our online contact form to book your next dental checkup and keep your smile healthy for the holidays!
Do you need dental checkups before or after the Holiday season ends? Get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment and keep your dental health in check!