You can avoid cavities and still enjoy holiday treats by following these easy tips:
Enjoy holiday treats wisely
Sticky and hard to chew foods such as gummy candy and dried fruit damage your teeth. These treats hold acid against your teeth longer than most other foods and cause plaque build up. Consuming sugary foods or drinks allows naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth to create acid by feeding on the sugar. These acids wear down enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to tooth decay and other dental problems. Snacking on sweets for an extended period of time is particularly harmful. Damaging acids form each time you have a sugary snack and continue to affect the teeth for at least 20 minutes afterwards.
If possible, eat your desserts close to your meal. Your mouth creates more saliva while eating and can better clean and protect your teeth from sugary foods. As an alternative, you can chew sugar-free gum with xylitol after a holiday meal. Gum will help your mouth produce saliva and the xylitol may even encourage enamel growth.
Rinse before brushing
Wine, fruit and juices are high in enamel-eroding acid. Rinsing your teeth with water before brushing with help wash away this acid. It also helps stop stain build up on your teeth.
Brush your teeth throughout the day
Carry a travel-size toothbrush during the holidays. Brushing your teeth after big meals and snacks will keep unwanted food and bacteria from building up. When you brush your teeth right after a meal it makes you less likely to eat/snack more. The natural sweetness of the toothpaste helps stave off craving something sweet. If you’re unable to brush your teeth after eating, rinsing your mouth thoroughly with water or chewing sugar-free gum will help to wash away food particles, produce more saliva and neutralize acids in your mouth
The holidays are a joyous time, but they can also cause an increase in stress. This stress can have a negative impact on your oral health. Lots of people tend to grind or clench their teeth more during times of stress. This can cause jaw pain, headaches or chipped teeth. Anxiety can also make you forget vital steps in your routine such as brushing and flossing. Find ways to channel your stress through physical activity to burn off extra energy instead of indulging in addtional sweets. You can also talk to your dentist about a night guard to help with teeth grinding or clenching.
Save treats for after mealtime as a greater amount of saliva produced in the mouth will better protect your child’s teeth. Give your child milk or cheese with holiday sweets, as dairy acts as a buffer to the acids produced by oral bacteria.
Give yourself a present by taking good care of your teeth this holiday season. It’s a great way to start off the new year!