Even if you take excellent care of your teeth and gums throughout the year, the holiday season can put a serious dent in your oral health if you’re not careful. From alcoholic beverages at holiday parties to a seemingly never-ending feast of sugary snacks and treats wherever you go, the holidays can create a breeding ground for common oral health problems like cavities and gingivitis.
That doesn’t mean you have to exercise superhuman discipline and skip your favorite holiday drinks and snacks altogether. With a few proactive steps and a little awareness, you can control your risk of cavities and other oral health problems while still enjoying yourself during the holidays.
At Scott Young, DDS, our dentists Dr. Scott Young, Dr. Kathleen Akers, and our dental team offer a range of general and cosmetic dentistry services at our office in The Woodlands, Texas.
5 ways to keep your teeth and gums healthy
Here are five things you can do during the holidays (and all year long) to protect your teeth and gums and lower your risk of tooth decay and gum disease:
1. Schedule your annual checkup and dental cleaning around the holidays
Even if you practice good oral hygiene, an annual checkup and professional dental cleaning are necessary to pick up where your toothbrush and floss leave off. These exams catch and treat oral health issues before they can harm your teeth and gums.
If it’s been a while since your last appointment, right before the holidays or at the start of the new year is a great time to schedule an exam. The holidays are also a great time to invest in dental improvements and cosmetic upgrades like professional teeth whitening or porcelain veneers. If you’re going into the holiday season with a beautiful newly whiter smile, you’ll have more of an incentive to watch out for staining food and drinks like red wine!
2. Keep track of your snacks
It’s easy to drastically increase your sugar consumption during the holidays. Be selective, and remember that you don’t have to eat that cookie or candy cane from the office holiday snack platter just because it’s there! Try to stick to your typical eating habits and routines as closely as possible while letting yourself indulge in your favorite holiday drinks and desserts in moderation.
3. Know the best time to brush
There’s never a bad time to brush your teeth, right? The surprising truth is that it depends. If you brush your teeth too soon after eating or drinking (especially with acidic food and drinks), you can actually damage the enamel layer and increase the risk of damaging and staining your teeth. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, but wait 30 minutes to an hour after drinking or eating to get the best results.
4. Stay hydrated
Drinking enough water is essential for your overall health, but it turns out it helps to keep your teeth and gums healthy as well. Among other things, every sip of water rinses your teeth and gums, making it harder for acids and bacteria from your food to cling to your teeth. It also helps to keep the saliva flowing, especially when you’re drinking alcohol.
5. Double up on fiber-rich fruits and veggies
Just like water, some foods can increase saliva production, add healthy minerals, and act as a natural tooth cleanser in the process. Apples, carrots, broccoli, celery, and dairy products are all good choices.
While holiday diets are among the biggest threats to your oral health, you can also chip or crack a tooth eating a piece of candy. Contact us right away if you experience any dental trauma to your teeth or gums.
If it’s been a while since you’ve checked up on your oral health, the holiday season is a great time to get back on track! For more information about how to keep your teeth and gums healthy during the holidays and throughout the year, contact Scott Young, DDS, to schedule an appointment at our office in The Woodlands, Texas.