Sparkling lights and colorful decorations are going up on houses and in yards. Maybe you’ve already made your annual trip to the Christmas tree farm. And beloved holiday treats — the ones that only make an appearance during this most joyous time of year — are showing up on store shelves.
The holiday season has arrived, which means warm family gatherings, festive parties, celebration of tradition, and lots of delicious food. Unfortunately, this swirl of activity sometimes pushes dental health concerns to the wayside. Here are some tips to ensure your and your family’s smiles stay in tip-top shape through the holidays and beyond.
If you live in or around Spokane Valley, WA, book your next checkup at Family Dental of Spokane Valley. Call our office at 509-850-3217.
Ease Up on the Eggnog
If you are like lots of people, you eagerly await the arrival of this seasonal treat to your grocer’s refrigerator. Sadly, rich, sweet eggnog wrecks havoc on your teeth. It coats your mouth in a thick layer of dissolved sugar, which is an invitation to bacteria to proliferate and release acids. These acids eat into your tooth enamel and eventually cause decay. If you do drink eggnog, keep it to a small amount. Brush your teeth afterward or, at minimum, wash it down with water to remove some of the sugars from your mouth.
Be Wary of Booze
With all the parties and gatherings underway, it may be tempting to drink more alcohol than you do normally. Be careful to always drink in moderation. Not only is heavy alcohol consumption dangerous to your overall health (and potentially deadly if you drive), it corrodes your teeth, stains enamel, dries your mouth, and increases your risk for gum disease and oral cancer.
Steer Clear of Candy Canes
Pretty, pepperminty candy canes are an iconic holiday treat. And when it comes to using them to decorate your tree or home, we encourage you to go to town. But try to keep your (and your children’s) consumption of them to a minimum. Hard candies, when dissolved and mixed with saliva in your mouth, create an insidious sugary coating that’s difficult to remove from your teeth. It creates an environment ripe for bacteria and tooth decay. When you do indulge, try to brush your teeth immediately afterward, or rinse your mouth with water.
Be Like a Reindeer and Eat Carrots
Carrots — and other crunchy, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables — are kind of like nature’s toothbrushes. Their fibrous texture stimulates the gums as you eat them. When you chew on them, your mouth starts producing more saliva, which cleanses away food particles and bacteria. Plus, they are low in calories and packed with health-boosting vitamins and minerals. If you are hosting or contributing to a holiday gathering this year, put out a colorful crudite tray. Holiday meals tend to be heavy, and it’s nice to have at least one lighter element on the menu.
Try to Stay Relaxed
The holiday season is a joyful time of year. It can also be one of the most stressful. Financial strain, family worries, travel, demands on time, and other issues can send anxiety through the roof. This is bad for your overall and oral health. Stress can lead to teeth grinding or clenching, which can cause jaw pain and wear on the enamel. If you do feel anxious, try to address the source of your anxiety (create a strict budget and don’t set expectations too high, for example) and reduce tension with relaxation techniques.
Place a Priority on Oral Hygiene
Whether you’re traveling for the holidays or staying close to home, it’s likely that you’ll be a bit off your normal schedule this time of year. Kids may be home from school and you may be attending more parties and social events than usual.
One aspect of your normal schedule that you should not disrupt, however, is your oral hygiene routine. No matter what’s going on during the day, make sure you and your kids brush thoroughly twice a day for two minutes and floss every night. Don’t let it slide, even if you’re tired.
You can have a magical and fun-filled holiday season — all while keeping your teeth and gums in good condition. And be sure to stay on top of your family’s dental checkup schedule. To book an appointment at Family Dental of Spokane Valley, fill out and submit our convenient online form. Or call our Spokane Valley, WA office at 509-850-3217.