The last thing you’re thinking about when you bite into the first sugar cookie of the holiday season is the health of your teeth. One of the things we love to do most over the holidays is eat specialty treats, candies, cookies and baked goods, while sipping on eggnog and hot chocolate. Unfortunately, overdoing it now can lead to a regretful emergency dentist trip on Christmas Eve or a new filling in the new year.
At Boyett Family Dentistry, we’re not asking you to give up all the wonderful treats you enjoy during the holidays. But we do have some tips to help you maintain healthy teeth and gums at the same time.
6 Tips for a Beautiful Holiday Smile
- Nibble on sweet treats sparingly. The holiday season is chock full of candies, Christmas cookies and other decadent baked goods. Unfortunately, the best chewy, crunchy and sticky treats – we’re talking about popcorn balls, candy canes, caramels, homemade fudge and the like – can wreak havoc on your mouth and teeth. Chewy, sugary treats stick to your teeth and cause tooth decay, while crunchy snacks can chip or damage a tooth. We’re not telling you to quit cold turkey, but only choose a few of your favorite treats this holiday season and don’t indulge every day.
- Cook healthy holiday goodies. At holiday gatherings this season, have a few healthier appetizers and snacks on hand. A cheese board and whole-wheat crackers, mixed nuts, and a tray of fresh, raw veggies and hummus keep your teeth healthy and keep you full so that you won’t be tempted to only munch on cookies and candies all evening. At big holiday dinners, include sides of roasted seasonal vegetables and a fresh salad to balance out your meal. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water!
- Avoid grazing all day. During the holidays, there’s food everywhere – fresh-baked cookies in the kitchen, a bowl of candy canes in the living room, homemade pie in the fridge, and a basket of baked goods you received as a gift. With so many treats in plain sight, it’s easy to spend the whole day nibbling on a little bit of everything. But sustained grazing is far worse for your teeth than eating a single dessert after a meal. Eating multiple sweet snacks throughout the day or sipping on sugary drinks exposes your teeth to relentless sugar and acid attacks that weaken enamel and lead to tooth decay. If you’re going to indulge, try to limit your treat consumption to once a day and brush your teeth afterward.
- Don’t use your teeth as tools. Around this time of year, we see an uptick in mouth injuries from people using their teeth to crack chestnuts, cut ribbons, open presents or pull the cork out of a wine bottle. Please remember that your teeth aren’t a multi-purpose tool. Using them for purposes other than eating can lead to cracks, chips, fractures and broken teeth.
- Limit stress. While the holidays are often a fun and enjoyable time, this time of year can also be quite stressful and overwhelming. When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to clench your jaw, grind your teeth, chew on your fingernails and chew on other objects like pens or necklaces. All these habits can cause tooth, mouth and jaw pain and damage. When you find yourself getting overwhelmed by family drama, gift shopping or planning a holiday get-together, take time to stop and enjoy a calming activity by yourself. Go for a walk, read a book, take a bath or exercise.
- Stick to your routines. The holidays are the worst time of year to start slacking on your oral health routines. Even though your schedule may be more hectic this time of year, stay vigilant about brushing twice a day, flossing once a day and rinsing with a fluoridated mouthwash. When you’re at holiday gatherings or out of town, bring a small emergency supply kit with a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss.
Schedule Your First Cleaning of the New Year!
Now that we’ve got you thinking about healthy teeth, take a minute to schedule your first 2021 cleaning with Boyett Family Dentistry! After a busy and treat-filled holiday season, start the new year off right with a deep cleaning and exam.
If you do suffer a dental emergency over the holidays, please don’t hesitate to call our office. We offer same-day appointments for emergent situations. Call us at 863-294-9200 or reach out online.