‘Tis the Season for Healthy Habits

The holiday season is upon us! That means sweet indulgences, festive functions, long-awaited journeys to see loved ones, and changes to your usual routine. Along with these holiday celebrations come risks for your oral health. And while you should embrace the joyful season, it’s also important to keep an eye on your dental hygiene by remembering the following tips for a jolly jaw.

Outside of the holiday season, a healthy oral hygiene routine is critical to your overall health and consists of brushing your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes, flossing regularly, using an alcohol-free mouthwash, and staying on top of your professional cleanings.

Threats to this routine can appear in the most joyful of ways—like parties, family meals, and get-togethers with friends. These celebrations typically come with bounties of food, sweets, sugary drinks, and other indulgences that could harm your oral health. While you should certainly treat yourself during this time of year, it’s important to keep in mind what’s best for your long-term health.

One well-known tip for staying healthy is avoiding foods that are high in sugar, like candies and chocolate. Limiting sticky candies like toffee is smart since the sugar can get stuck between your teeth, and if you have your choice of chocolates, dark chocolate has a slightly lower sugar content than other chocolates. Hard candies, like candy canes, are popular around the holidays, but can also lead to damage and enamel cracks when bitten.

Another way to cut down on your sugar consumption during the holidays is minding what you drink. Festive beverages like soda, cocktails, hot chocolate, and eggnog are a delicious way to ring in happy tidings, but can also be loaded with sugar and acidity—a destructive combination when it comes to your gum and enamel health.

To minimize the damage of sugary snacks and drinks while still enjoying them, try incorporating glasses of water to wash away stubborn particles. Another way to minimize bacteria buildup is to avoid grazing at cocktail hours, during meals, and at parties. It’s easy to eat more than you normally would when you’re entertaining, attending gatherings, or having a holiday meal that stretches over many hours, so adding water when you can will benefit your oral hygiene.

If you can’t resist the extra nibbles, foods like cheese and meat can be far less harmful to the surfaces of your teeth. Not only is cheese delicious and popular at parties, but as a dairy product it is also a good source of calcium which strengthens teeth and neutralizes the acid and pH levels in the mouth to prevent cavities from forming.

One of the easiest times to stray from your hygiene routine is when traveling. If you’re staying in an unfamiliar place without your usual products, it can be easy to skip steps that you otherwise consider a necessary part of your day. To avoid disruption to your routine, be sure to pack your toothbrush, toothpaste, and hand-held flossers. Having everything you’re used to using at home with you on the road will help keep you on track to a healthy mouth.

The season also brings gifts, and sometimes it can be difficult to resist using your teeth as a tool to open plastic wraps and packages. Though it may be tempting, it’s always safer to take an extra moment to get a pair of scissors and avoid any harm you could do to your teeth. Fixing a chipped, broken, or cracked tooth would be much more expensive and time consuming than taking time to find the right tool.

While the holiday season can be packed with activities, it’s important to keep these tips in mind and stick to your regular dental visits. When you have a moment, give us a call to make sure you’re on track for your professional cleaning early in the new year.

Tricky Treats

Halloween is almost here! And with it comes lots of fun: crazy costumes, haunted houses, festive decor,  time with friends, and candy you crave all year. But the treats that kids gather from house to house can be tricky.

Candy is high in sugar, and sugar is one of the leading causes of tooth decay in mouths of any age. When sugary particles get stuck in your teeth, they cause a layer of bacteria and plaque to form. This bacteria breaks particles down for fuel which increases the acidity in your mouth, and that acidity can cause the protective layers of your teeth to erode. If those protective layers are worn down, the bacteria can permeate the surface and damage the teeth—potentially permanently.

If you have lots of different types of candy to choose from at the end of the night, we recommend avoiding hard candy that stays in your mouth for a long time and could cause breakage if bitten, sticky gummy candy that might not be washed away by saliva, and sour candy that might harm the enamel. The longer candy stays in your mouth, the higher the risk of eventual tooth decay.

Is your Halloween pile heavy on the chocolate? There’s good news! While chocolate is still sugary and can harm the teeth if it remains on the surface for an extended period, it does not bond to the nooks and crannies of teeth in the same sticky way as soft, gummy, or sour candies.

These warnings may seem scary, but fear not! There are tips you can keep in mind that will let you and the little ones in your life enjoy Hallo-sweets to the fullest. When it’s possible, it’s best to enjoy your Halloween haul shortly after mealtime. As you eat a meal, saliva production increases, which can act as a natural mouthwash to rinse away sugary particles and the acid produced by bacteria in your mouth.

For extra rinsing power, drinking a glass of water after indulging in a Halloween treat will help wash away sugar more than saliva can on its own. Brushing teeth after candy may seem like the most obvious way to minimize particle build up, but only after 30 minutes have gone by. Waiting 30 minutes before brushing allows the saliva to stabilize the pH of the mouth and helps avoid adding more corrosiveness to the surface of the teeth caused by acidic candies.

If you would rather stay away from candy altogether, treats like stickers, spider rings, and glow-in-the-dark toys keep Halloween fun.

If you do end up with more candy in the house than usual, there are ways to minimize the harm. Here are our tips for keeping the fright away from your bite:

  • Remember that chocolate can be rinsed away relatively easily, while sticky, chewy, sour candy cannot.
  • Allow for one or two pieces to be enjoyed each night right after dinner or close to mealtime.
  • Wash treats down with a big glass of water to combat sugar overload.

As always, the most important tip is to stick to a thorough and consistent hygiene routine. That means brushing and flossing regularly, and coming to see us for cleanings twice a year. Call us today to schedule an appointment or book one through our online booking tool!

 

A Feast for Your Teeth

Tis the season for giving thanks! When it’s time to go around the table and share what you’re thankful for this year, don’t forget your beautiful smile. We’ve rounded up a big bowl of tips to keep in mind to maintain a healthy mouth and sparkling teeth this Thanksgiving—from the main event, to leftover meals, and every month that follows.

Reach for the veggies. In a spread full of indulgent holiday delicacies, vegetables might not be your first pick, but they should be. Colorful veggies are loaded with vitamins and minerals that keep your teeth strong. The leafy greens in salads and other dishes will provide a hefty serving of teeth-strengthening calcium. If you spot red and orange veggies, add some to your plate for a few bites of gum-protecting vitamin C.

Control your colors. Bright foods and drinks—like the red and orange veggies above—are a beautiful addition to the table, but certain recipes may feature stain-causing ingredients. To keep your enamel pearly white, try to stay away from red wine, cranberry sauce, and post-meal coffee. If you just can’t resist the blueberry or cherry pie on the dessert table, go ahead and indulge, but come see us for a cleaning soon after the holiday.

Beware of acid. Cranberries are an essential element in lots of Thanksgiving dishes, and many adults enjoy a glass of wine with their dinner—but be sure to wash them down with water. Cranberries and wine are high in enamel-softening acid that can make your teeth more vulnerable to decay and staining. Lessen the acid’s corrosiveness with bites of other foods and frequent sips of water.

See you later, starch! While sweets are typically the most popular culprit when it comes to harming your teeth, starchy dishes can also play a part. The starches in must-have savory side dishes like cornbread and stuffing can interact with bacteria in the same way that sugary foods do. These bacteria produce acid that can make itself at home in your mouth and cause enamel irritation. Have cornbread and stuffing alongside servings of protein and fiber for balance and to create saliva that will wash bacteria away.

The less-sweet side of sugar. Many Thanksgiving feasts are a decadent mix of sweet and savory from start to finish. Yams are topped with melty marshmallows, and the dessert options can be endless. The holidays are a great excuse to indulge your sweet tooth, but do so wisely. Cavity-causing bacteria is lurking in many of our favorite dishes, so be sure to wash down sweet bites with water. If you’re the chef, try using less-damaging sugar substitutes like xylitol or erythritol to keep the dishes sweet and guests happy.

The most important part of the holiday season is to enjoy time with those you love, and adding delicious treats just makes it sweeter. For a healthy smile long after the holiday season, make sure to keep up with your regular dental hygiene routine.

 

 

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