As Christmas and the New Year are fast approaching, we are getting into that busy time of year; rushing to get presents, plan for family dinners and long lunches and of course TREATS! I am from Canada, so when I think of this time of year, I think of cold snowy days, bundled up in all of my warm clothing, hot coffees, playing card games with the family and lots of eating! Now that I am in Australia, this has changed quite a bit as I have shifted to finding air con and seafood lunches!
For many of us, the holiday season is quite a deviation from our regular active lifestyles, as we enjoy far more sweets and snack than usual! A drastic change in diet and hygiene will undoubtedly affect your dental health, so here are my top oral health tips for the holiday season, to keep your teeth and gums healthy while you spend time with the family and enjoy this time of year.
Oral Health Tip 1: Brush your teeth!
- This may seem like an easy one but it is probably the most important, and not just in the holiday season but all throughout the year as well. If you have time off work or the kids are at home instead of school it can be easy to fall into bad habits and say, “I will brush my teeth later” when you don’t have any plans for the day, but then later turns to completely forgetting! Also, maybe you have just had a really big special feast and you sit down thinking how great that meal was, but just feel too full and sleepy to do much of anything else, and proceed to go to bed without brushing! These little slips can lead into a habit forming and an overall reduction in the number of times per day you brush will increase the amount of plaque that gets stuck on the teeth and increase the chances of a new hole forming. The best way to brush your teeth is for 2 minutes at least twice day. This ensures that if one of the times you missed a spot, you make sure to get it the next time. Furthermore, brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste allows fluoride to soak into the teeth and stop holes from progressing or forming!
Oral Health Tip 2: Floss and clean between teeth
- Similarly to the first oral health tip, my second tip is to floss regularly. People often find it difficult or irritating to floss, meaning it often gets skipped, but it really is the only effective way to clean the places where your teeth touch each other. With a great seafood lunch, or roast dinner, sometimes you get food stuck between your teeth, and leaving that food there can lead to gum pain and even gum infections. Flossing removes these bits of food, helping stop holes forming in the teeth and also keeping the gums nice and healthy.
Oral Health Tip 3: Limit frequency of snacking and sugary foods
- My mother is a fabulous baker and always makes such delicious sweets and treats. When I am at home for the holidays, I must admit that I can’t help myself and eat way to many cookies, pies, and chocolates. For many of us, the holidays are the one time of year where you can maybe cheat a bit and eat something you normally would avoid. This change in diet can drastically affect your oral health. If you have also started skipping brushing and now have a bunch of extra sugary treats, this can lead to holes developing or progressing very quickly. A tip if you want to have enjoy these tasty treats without damaging your teeth is to limit the frequency of the treats. Instead of snacking on a bunch of different things all day long, have some all in one sitting. Rinse with water after, and remove the remaining food debris by brushing and flossing.
Oral Health Tip 4: Avoid biting hard things such as candy
- One thing your teeth are certainly not meant for is to be used as tools. It is very common for people who have bit fishing line, or tried to use their teeth to open something to end up with a broken tooth. During the holidays this risk is increased, due to more time at home, new toys and of course different types of food. Hard candies, crunchy sugared nuts, pork crackling; all of these are potential to bite down a little too hard and crack your teeth. Cracked teeth are very difficult to treat and manage and they are often painful, ending up with either needing a root canal, crown or having the tooth taken out! The last Christmas gift any of us want is a toothache or dental extraction!
To keep your holiday dental-stress free, if you follow a few tips, like brushing and flossing your teeth often and effectively, limiting the frequency of snacking and sugary foods, avoiding very hard foods and using your teeth as tools, and come into the office for a good cleaning and exam, you can avoid an emergency dental visit during the holiday and give yourself the gift of a beautiful smile!
Have a wonderful holiday full of fun and happiness and don’t forget to book your dental check up in the New Year!