The holidays are here, and you likely have a to-do list a mile long. Shop for gifts, cook food, see family and friends. During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to fall out of our routines and healthy habits. However, don’t let your smile be forgotten this holiday season. Here are five holiday dental tips to keep your teeth healthy and your smile beautiful into the New Year and beyond!
- Beware of Sugar Hidden in Foods and Drinks
Sugar seems to be everywhere during the holidays, and you might be surprised at much this ingredient is hiding in your favorite foods and drinks. Popular holiday dishes such as sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce can be packing much more sugar than you think.
Of course, drinks and dessert can also have hidden sugar. There can be as many as 25 grams of sugar in one cocktail—that’s more than the daily limit of sugar for adults, which is only 24 grams of sugar.
Although skipping sugar completely is unrealistic for many during the holidays, it helps to be aware of how much extra sugar you could be consuming. Sugar is a major factor in developing tooth decay and can harm tooth enamel, leading to sensitive or discolored teeth.
You can help protect your smile by making as many healthy swaps as possible this holiday season. For example:
- Choose sparkling water instead of soda or a mixed drink
- Serve fresh fruit with dessert (or as dessert)
- Reduce or eliminate sugar when unnecessary in dishes and recipes
2. Drink Water to Stay Hydrated and Protect Your Smile
Drinking water is important no matter what time of the year it is. However, drinking enough water is particularly important during the holiday season. Water helps fight dry mouth and dehydration from alcohol, traveling, and lack of sleep during the holidays, so sip water during the day as much as you can.
Staying hydrated does more than combat dry mouth. Drinking water also helps protect your teeth against the acids produced by the foods and drinks you consume, such as sweets, alcohol, and citrus fruits. Drinking water with a meal and after a meal is the best way to help rinse your mouth and prevent tooth enamel damage.
Water can also help buffer your teeth against foods and drinks that may stain tooth enamel, such as berries and red wine. Even if you choose to have a different drink, alternate sipping your drink with water to protect your smile!
3. Stick to Your Oral Care Routine
The holidays can throw off your routine, especially when visiting family or traveling to another state or country. It can be difficult to stick to your oral care routine during a busy time, but here are a few tips to try and make it easier to brush and floss every day to protect your teeth:
- Keep a container of floss in your purse, car, or luggage so you can floss when it’s convenient or if you’ve forgotten that morning.
- Have an extra toothbrush on hand. You never know when you will misplace a toothbrush or leave one of the kids’ brushes behind when traveling.
- Still brush your teeth even if you’ve forgotten to bring toothpaste. Your brush alone will help remove plaque!
If your oral care routine includes wearing a nightly mouthguard for teeth grinding or a retainer to keep your teeth straight after orthodontic work, be sure to wear these appliances as much as you are able. Since stress is typically higher during the holidays, teeth grinding can be even worse than it is during other times of year, making it extra important to wear your mouthguard.
4. Don’t Use Your Teeth to Open Those Packages
Opening packages that come in the mail or presents with your teeth can be tempting when there are no scissors in sight. However, do yourself a favor and refrain from opening packages with your teeth. Even if it’s just ribbon on a present, use a tool to cut open items. Ribbon, plastic packaging, and even cardboard can damage teeth and gums, leading to a dental emergency during the holidays.
It’s also a good idea to avoid cracking nuts, chewing on ice, popcorn kernels, and other things that could injure your teeth. Opening packages or chewing on pens and other items can cause a tooth chip or fracture and also lead to existing dental restorations falling out, which can cause pain and tooth sensitivity.
5. Have Healthy Snacks on Hand
Often, we eat things just because they are there. And there’s no end to the sweets that are available around the holidays that could damage your teeth. Make sure you have some healthy snacks on hand to counterbalance the sweets available.
Some foods that are healthy for teeth and gums and may be good to have on hand include nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, and cheese. Snacks high in protein, calcium, and vitamin C can all be great for your smile and help prevent hidden sweets from compromising your oral health.
6. Chew Sugarless Gum
Sugarless gum is an excellent way to protect your smile against cavities this holiday season. In fact, chewing sugarless gum immediately after a meal or after consuming an acidic drink such as alcohol or soda may help prevent cavities.
Chewing sugarless gum is a convenient way to keep cavities away when on-the-go. Choose your favorite flavor and keep a couple packs of gum in handy places, such as in your purse, car, or suitcase. Sugarless gum can also be a great way to help prevent damage to your smile if you’ve forgotten to brush and floss—not to mention help freshen your breath!
Don’t Forget to Schedule Your Check-Up
Have you had your second dental checkup for 2021 yet? If not, don’t wait to schedule an appointment with your dentist in Asheville Saunders DDS. Contact our team to book an appointment for an exam and cleaning before the New Year to keep your smile looking and feeling healthy. Call us at (828) 277-6060 or use our contact form to request your appointment.