The holidays are almost here! Such an exciting and busy time of the year with delicious foods, sweet treats, and many surprises. But don't let cavities or lack of dental care be one of those surprises that sneaks up at the end of the season.
Here are five oral care tips to help your family celebrate the holidays in a tooth-friendly way!
Photo credit: @jaymesquires
Seek out foods that are NICE to your smile.
Stay on Santa's "nice list" this year by choosing holiday foods that benefit your smile. Of course, this does not mean you have to completely refrain from indulging in some of your favorite Christmas foods, but remember to balance them out with foods that promote enamel health.
Anti-cariogenic foods, such as cheese and yogurt can serve as a buffer for the outer layer of your teeth and are encouraged to be eaten before something sweet and acidic.
The American Dental Association (ADA) lists six holiday mouth-healthy
Snack options with photos as examples of ways to trade out the sweets for more tooth-friendly options.
- Hard-boiled egg snowmen topped with carrot hats (filled with vitamins)
- Spinach artichoke frittata trees (filled with calcium and other vitamins and minerals)
- Black olive penguins stuffed with cream cheese
- Cheesy reindeer (cheese is one of the best foods for our teeth!)
- Pita tree appetizers with a sour cream spread (loaded with vitamin D)
- Grinch poppers made with grapes, strawberries, and bananas
Skip the NAUGHTY treats
Sweets are inevitable to avoid during the holidays. From work parties to Christmas baking, to those unannounced holiday candies showing up right in front of you, it is hard to say no. But by recognizing which treats are worse than others for your teeth, you may even stay off the "naughty list."
Biting into candy canes, crunching on peppermints and butterscotch, snacking on dried fruits (cranberries!), and consuming sticky candies and homemade peanut brittle can cause significant damage to your teeth if you're not careful. If possible, stay clear of these types of treats to help prevent chipping your teeth or increasing your chances for post-holiday cavities.
If you have a hard time passing on the sweets, believe me, you are not alone. But, timing when you eat those particular foods can be a game-changer in protecting your teeth. Try limiting the amount of grazing you do during the holidays to help limit the bacteria and acid from sugars and starches.
Be mindful of those sugary beverages.
Sweet wines, eggnog, apple cider, and cocktail mixers are loaded with added sugar. After indulging in a glass (or two), try to neutralize the acid formed in your mouth with water. Alcohol may even lead to drying out your mouth, especially the more you consume. Complement your drink of choice with a glass of water to help protect your enamel. In addition, darker liquids (red wine, coffee, dark sodas) are much more likely to stain your teeth. But even those lighter color drinks (champagne and sweet white wines) are packed with sugar and acids that aren't any better.
Consider sparkling water as an interesting twist and a slightly carbonated punch to mix up your liquids of choice this holiday season.
- Stick to a good oral hygiene routine.
Now more than ever is it essential to keep up your brushing and flossing routine to help balance all the tempting foods and drinks that come your way over the holiday.
Grin's toothpaste contains natural hydroxyapatite. Brushing with it will help restore and remineralize the outer enamel layer of your teeth. If you expect to consume more tooth staining beverages this holiday season, you may want to incorporate Grin's natural whitening toothpaste. And don't forget that only 60% of tooth surfaces are cleaned with brushing alone. Because timing is precious during the holidays, Grin's family pack of dental flossers is an effective and efficient way to clean between your teeth after those sugar-heavy days.
Don't forget to visit the dentist one last time for the year.
Don't wait until the last minute to schedule your last dental cleaning for the year! Dental offices have hectic schedules during the holidays - young children and teens are home from school or college; there are also others simply trying to maximize their insurance benefits before they expire during the calendar year. If you are on a recall schedule with your dentist every six months, schedule that follow-up visit immediately to avoid losing track and missing out on dental check-ups and routine cleanings.
Christmas time should be fun and memorable for your family. By incorporating some or all of these oral care tips into your holiday season, you may save your wallet and calendar a break as you enter the new year.
About the author:
Written by: Kristen Cockrell, MS, RDH
Kristen Cockrell is a Registered Dental Hygienist with a passion for preventive pediatric dentistry and oral health education. Kristen earned her master's degree in dental hygiene education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.