While many people consider the holiday season “the most wonderful time of the year,” your dentist might consider it the most dangerous time of the year. Holiday treats, drinks, and snacks become commonplace, making cavities and other dental problems more likely.
Use these tips to protect your teeth and smile brightly for the holidays.
- Avoid Staining Drinks
When you attend parties and social events, you have many drinks to choose from. Unfortunately, many of these drinks can stain your teeth.
- Coffee and tea contain tannins, which discolor teeth. Black tea stains teeth yellow, and green tea stains teeth gray.
- Soda is acidic, and this acid can create holes in your teeth. It’s also high in sugar, which feeds the bacteria in your mouth.
- Red wine contains tannins that turn teeth gray.
- White wine can make tooth stains even more prominent.
- Juice also contains sugar that can increase cavity risk.
When you’re out with friends or spending time with family, consider replacing these drinks with flavored water. You can make your own flavored water by adding fruit like raspberries, strawberries, and orange slices to your water. If you do drink any staining drinks, try drinking with a lid to avoid tooth exposure.
- Keep Treats Out of Reach
Are you tired of well-meaning friends dropping off plates of sugary goodies? With so many treats around you, you’re tempted to eat them every day. As sugar collects on your teeth, bacteria begins to eat the sugar. The bacteria creates acid in your mouth. This acid causes your tooth enamel to break down, creating cavities.
Instead of eating everything in sight, consider giving these treats to a friend or neighbor. You could also bring them to work or to a party or event. In any case, don’t keep the treats sitting out in your kitchen or another area you frequent.
Another strategy is to divide the treats into small servings. Set a goal for yourself, such as that you’ll only eat one serving a day.
Make sure to eat plenty of vegetables, protein, and whole grains. These foods provide important nutrients and keep you satiated so you’re less likely to reach for sugary treats.
- Plan Ahead for Parties
Even if you can avoid sugary treats at home, you might go overboard as soon as you arrive at a party. Do your part to protect your teeth from sugary foods. Decide before you arrive at the party how many sugary treats you’re going to eat. When you arrive, follow your plan rather than loading your plate.
- Avoid Crunchy Foods
The holidays also bring many crunchy treats, such as nuts, popcorn, nut brittle, and pretzels. Although these foods taste delicious, they can easily damage your teeth. Don’t overdo it on these foods, and be careful as you bite into them. Also, don’t shell nuts with your teeth. If you do chip a tooth or filling, see a dentist right away.
- Don’t Use Your Teeth for Wrapping
Some people use their teeth while wrapping presents. For example, they might use their teeth to cut ribbon or tape. Despite their strength, teeth aren’t accustomed to performing these kinds of tasks. As you continue to put your teeth through this stress, you might experience cracks, fractures, and chips in your teeth.
- Avoid Grinding Your Teeth
For many people, the holiday season is the most stressful time of the year. A common reaction to stress is to grind the teeth and clench the jaw, especially while sleeping. These practices damage teeth and increase mouth and jaw pain. If you have this problem, talk to a dentist about a mouth guard. This device can help you avoid practices that damage teeth.
- Amp Up Your Hygiene Routine
Now more than ever, it’s important to take care of your teeth with regular hygiene practices. Even if you brush and floss every day, you might not be doing everything you could to achieve a sparkling smile.
Follow these tips to improve your brushing routine:
- Replace your toothbrush every few months. Frayed bristles don’t adequately clean your teeth.
- Brush every surface of your teeth, including the outer surfaces, inner surfaces, chewing surfaces, and the spaces between teeth. Brush your gums and tongue as well to remove bacteria.
- Set a timer to ensure you brush for a full two minutes.
You can also improve your flossing routine by going beyond flossing between the teeth. Curve the floss around each tooth and floss under the gum line as well.
Seeing your dentist every six months should also be an important part of your hygiene routine. Dental staff members use special equipment and procedures to remove hardened plaque that you can’t remove with mere brushing and flossing. They also check your teeth, mouth, and gums for any problems.
Follow these tips to maintain a bright, healthy holiday smile. If you’re due for a dental appointment, call Schererville Family Dentistry.