The holidays are a wonderful time filled with family, friends, and fun. Between the festive decorations, the holiday cheer, and time spent with loved ones, many people often forget that the regular world doesn’t stop during these times. Your teeth still need care and attention, and unfortunately, many of the things we all love so much during the holidays can actually be damaging to your teeth! Since we at Sninski & Schmitt Family Dentistry know that the last thing you want to do is have to schedule an appointment two days before Christmas for a cracked tooth, we’ve put together a list of our dentists’ best holiday tooth care tips below.
Pass On Chewy Foods and Hard Candy
We know, we know. This one will almost certainly be one of the more difficult aspirations on this list. While you obviously don’t have to cut all hard candies and super chewy foods out during the holidays, it is still best to know their risks.
Hard candy, such as candy canes, butterscotch candies, and any of a multitude of other candies are primarily a risk for your teeth if you try to chew on them. Much like ice cubes, chewing on hard candies can lead to cracked or chipped teeth. These are both painful in their own right and expensive to fix. They’re doubly threatening if you’re away from home and your usual dentist, as you might face the unwelcome choice between spending a lot with a family dentist you don’t know and being in pain during the holidays.
While not threatening immediate damage in the same way as hard candies, very sticky or chewy candies can cause damage in their own way. Between the stickiness and sugar, these candies can cling to your teeth and feed the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Very sticky candies such as caramels can even pull out fillings if you’re not careful.
Watch What You Drink
The holidays mean holiday parties, family gatherings, Christmas markets, and a host of other events at which alcohol is consumed. While we obviously recommend drinking in moderation, the more important thing from a dental perspective is understanding what particular alcohols do to your teeth.
If you’re a lover of red wine, you might be in for a staining surprise. Red wine, much like coffee, contains pigments that naturally stain your teeth. In order to counteract this, it is best to eat food and drink water while drinking red wine to minimize potential staining. In addition, brushing as soon as possible after drinking red wine can mitigate the staining. White wine, while not staining your teeth, has more sugar than red, and as such has many of the same concerns as sodas or candies.
Overall, the most “tooth-healthy” alcohol to drink would be vodka, as it will not stain your teeth and does not have added sugars. Alcohol, however, is very acidic overall. This means that you need to make sure you’re eating tooth-healthy foods to protect your enamel!
Don’t Munch All Day
During the holidays there is often food everywhere. Whether it be post-Thanksgiving leftovers, an appetizer spread for a holiday get-together, or the nibblings of Christmas morning, the stage is set for us to eat all day in small doses. This can actually be healthy for your waistline, but is most certainly not good for your teeth, as it ups the chance of tooth decay from constant exposure to food. If you want to nip this risk in the bud, make sure to put the food away after every meal and don’t just graze all day.
Eat Veggies, Cheese, and Turkey
There are some good things for you to eat during this holiday season! We know that this entire list has thus far been “Don’t do this! Don’t do that!” but this category is a list of things you should eat. We’ll start with vegetables. Veggies are obviously very healthy and good for you, but one thing that a lot of people don’t know is that they’re also good for your teeth. Their fibrous nature means that you have to chew them a lot and produce a lot of saliva, which will scrub your teeth! In addition, broccoli and carrots have a lot of vitamin A, which helps restore your tooth enamel.
Cheese and turkey are both winners of the “surprisingly good for teeth” award. The calcium in cheese is great for your bones and teeth, but one thing that many people often overlook is the pH balance of cheese. If you’re consuming alcohol at a party, eating cheese can go some way to restoring the pH balance of your mouth and saving some of your enamel from erosion. Turkey has a large amount of phosphorus and protein, and therefore is good at strengthening your teeth even as you nap off the post-thanksgiving sleepiness!
Don’t Open Things With Your Teeth
While this might seem like a pretty self-evident piece of advice, you’d be surprised how many people damage their teeth in a frenzied effort to get to their present or next bottle of alcohol. Even something as relatively benign as tearing open food packaging with your teeth can risk tooth damage similar to that of the hard candies we listed above, so why risk it? Scissors, knives, and hands exist for a reason, so use them instead of your chompers and save yourself a visit to your family dentist!
Maintain Your Dental Health Routine
We know that this is a really boring point on which to conclude, but it really is important! Despite all the changes to schedule and priorities during the holidays, and despite all the food and drink you’ll be consuming, the single best thing you can do to keep your teeth healthy is to maintain the same routine you do when it’s a regular week, assuming you take care of your teeth regularly! This means brushing twice a day, flossing, using mouthwash where appropriate, and all of the other things your family dentist tells you every time you visit. It’s not exciting, but it will keep your pearly whites healthy and glowing for the holidays!
Contact Your Cary and Holly Springs Dentist for Holiday Help
If you would like to get a last-minute dental checkup before the new year rolls around, or would like to schedule a family dentistry checkup for your children, contact Sninski & Schmitt Family Dentistry today. We have two convenient offices located in Holly Springs and Cary, and would be more than happy to try and fit you into our holiday schedule. If you would like to learn more you can call us at 919-600-6262 (Holly Springs), 919-467-2203 (Cary), or fill out the form below. Happy holidays!