The Tooth-Healthy Survival Guide for Holiday Festivities

Take care of your teeth this holiday season

Quick Tips for Maintaining Strong Teeth and Gums This Holiday Season

It’s crazy to think another 330-something days have passed since you took down the Christmas decorations, served the last jug of eggnog, and wished someone a Happy New Year. Now is the time for all these things again! And since the holiday season is also fraught with baked goods, rich side dishes, and hard candies that taunt you at every corner, we came up with a survival guide to help you (and your teeth) get through this time of the year cavity-free

Create an end-of-the-meal ritual. 

You already know the oral hygiene basics: brush twice a day and floss before bed. Every morning. Every night. This may look a little different over the holidays if you’re visiting family or attending holiday parties that run late into the night. And since the longer you expose your teeth to sugars, the higher the risk of developing cavities, you’ll need to tweak your oral routine to fit your new daily schedule. Carrying your toothbrush and a travel toothpaste with you as you do the rounds visiting family and friends can make it easier to find opportunities to squeeze in some quick brushes between meals, treats, and drinks. If you’re going somewhere where access to a sink isn’t readily available, chewing sugar-free gum can help you avoid the effects of acid and bacteria on your teeth, protecting your smile in between brushing sessions.

Drink lots of water. 

Drinking water is great for your oral health because it washes away sugars, food particles, and acids from your teeth and gums. When you’re constantly on the run, trying to tick off all the things on your never-ending Christmas to-do list, it’s easy to forget to drink the recommended eight glasses of water a day. However, when you’re dehydrated, you produce less saliva. The bacteria in your mouth will still continue making acids whenever you eat or drink, but now you’ll have less saliva to wash it away. More acids will linger on your teeth and make them more vulnerable to tooth decay. So try to slip in a couple of glasses of water throughout your day; your teeth will thank you for it.

Choose tooth-friendly food options.

Family holiday feasts and work celebrations don’t only have to include decadent desserts and a sea of rich side dishes. Why not enjoy eating healthy foods which nourish your body and protect your teeth and gums? Prepare a fruit platter to satisfy your sweet tooth instead of choosing less tooth-friendly options. Cheese, nuts, sugar-free yogurt, and carrot sticks are other food options that can prevent tooth decay and help reduce sugar cravings that are typically brought on when one eats too many refined carbohydrates.

Set an eating time limit.

‘Tis not the season to eat, eat, and eat some more. Snacking throughout the day is probably the worst thing you can do to your teeth and gums. When you eat all day, you’re constantly feeding the decay-causing bacteria in your mouth, meaning you expose your teeth to acids more frequently and for longer periods of time in between brushes. Since a healthy mouth can only handle up to five acid attacks a day before it’s overwhelmed and your enamel starts eroding, eating constantly puts you at a greater risk of tooth decay. Setting time limits for when to eat (and most importantly) when not to eat allows your teeth time to recover from acid attacks between meals.

Eat with moderation.

Overindulging in food and drinks goes with the season’s festivities, but it’s also one of the worst holiday eating habits. Once your stomach gets too full, it won’t be able to digest all of the food before you lie down to sleep. Digestive acids may travel back to your mouth and create a low pH environment, which is where the problem for your teeth and gums starts. Increased acid levels in your mouth lead to enamel erosion and increase your risk of developing cavities. The best way to enjoy big holiday dinners is to chew slowly and pause between bites. You’ll not only truly enjoy your meals, but you’ll also have a better chance of noticing when you’ve had just enough. 

We wish you a cavity-free holiday season! From candy canes to eggnogs and fruit cakes, there are plenty of holiday food options that can wreak havoc on the health of your teeth and gums. Fill up on healthy choices like fruit platters and cheese to minimize your chances of indulging in sugary foods and drinks. And if you’d like to enjoy a chocolate chip muffin, practice moderation and remember to brush your teeth right after. It may not guarantee a cavity-free checkup during your dental appointment with us, but it will prevent plaque buildup and reduce the likelihood of tooth decay. From our family to yours, we wish you a cavity-free holiday season!