It can be challenging to stick to your healthy diet and oral hygiene habits during the holidays. Sweets and tempting treats seem to appear everywhere, and your usual routine is often disrupted (in good ways, of course).
Murfreesboro Family Dentistry wants to help you and your family have a healthy, happy holiday season. Here are eight easy ways you can keep your teeth strong and healthy without becoming a Grinch or skipping too much holiday cheer.
1 Enjoy the Thanksgiving pies and Christmas cookies the smart way
Sweets, treats, and sugary temptations are everywhere this time of year. You and your children are probably tempted to snack on sweets, but all that extra sugar intake can be bad for your teeth.
Your mouth has a lot of natural bacteria that love to feed on sugar. The byproduct is excess acid that can break down the enamel on your teeth, leading to decay and cavities. The more time your teeth are exposed to sugar, the higher your risk of cavities. Hard candies, taffies, and other sticky treats can be even worse for your teeth!
There’s no reason to become the Grinch and ban all holiday goodies! Brush and floss your teeth more frequently during the holidays, especially after eating dessert or sweet treats.
If brushing your teeth isn’t an option, rinse your mouth out with water or mouthwash to rinse away any sugar, acid, and other food particles that might stick to your teeth.
2 Beware of sneaky starches
Starchy foods are sneaky because they seem harmless but can contribute to unhealthy teeth. Bread, chips, and cakes can get trapped around your teeth and lead to plaque build-up.
Often, sweet treats are easy for your saliva to wash away from your teeth, but starchy foods can get stuck on and around your teeth. Bacteria feed on these starches and produce a lot of damaging acids. Brush regularly to clear away food and keep the bacteria growth in check.
3 Choose the turkey, veggies, and cheese
Turkey is rich in protein and phosphorus, which are essential for healthy teeth and bones. Vegetables like broccoli and carrots are high in vitamin A which helps keep your tooth enamel strong. Cheese has calcium and helps neutralize acids in your mouth. Don’t be afraid to set out beautiful veggie and cheese trays to munch on instead of tempting cookie trays.
4 Limit when you indulge
Another way to protect your teeth during the holiday treats deluge is to limit when you allow yourself to indulge. Make dessert and treats part of the meal instead of snacking throughout the day. It’s better to enjoy sugary treats when you eat a balanced meal because it reduces how much you consume, and healthier foods help neutralize the damaging acids.
Another way to indulge smart is to do as the French do and make cheese a part of dessert. The ADA reports that mozzarella and other cheeses help neutralize acids in your mouth! So, set out a beautiful cheese platter next to that plate of Christmas cookies for your next party.
5 Choose your drinks wisely
Don’t overlook the sugars and acids in holiday drinks like sodas, wine, hot chocolate, and juices. After enjoying a mug of hot chocolate, drink plenty of water to rinse the sugar and acids off your teeth. The same goes for that glass of mulled wine or hot cider.
Drinking alcoholic beverages can dry out your mouth and increase your risk for cavities. Too much red wine can also stain your teeth. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water along with your alcoholic beverage of choice. Reduce the risk of staining your teeth by drinking red wine with your meal and brushing or rinsing soon afterward.
Also, there are times when you feel hungry, but you are really dehydrated. Provide plenty of water this holiday season to keep everyone hydrated and healthy. You might even notice yourself snacking less if you reach for a glass of water before a munchy. Add some natural flavoring to your water like peppermint leaves, lemon wedges, or cucumber slices.
6 Keep hands and minds occupied to prevent mindless eating
The holidays are usually a much-needed break from routine, school, work, and other commitments. It’s an excellent time to relax and enjoy time together, but too much down-time can lead to more snacking and overindulging.
Keep your meal routine as healthy as possible through the holiday season to reduce the temptation to eat mindlessly. Avoid setting foods out for people to snack on for extended periods. Offer plenty of healthy activities for children to enjoy that will keep them active and prevent eating out of boredom.
7 Use the scissors, not your teeth
When opening packages and presents, it’s tempting to use your teeth and hands instead of finding a pair of scissors. Using your teeth to open packages can chip, crack or break your teeth. A chipped or broken tooth may require an expensive (and inconvenient) root canal, crown, or other procedures that can throw your holiday schedule into chaos. Avoid the risk altogether, and keep the scissors handy.
8 Schedule in-office teeth whitening in preparation for the holidays
Have you scheduled your regular dental check-up and cleaning to make sure your teeth are healthy and strong? Make an appointment for in-office teeth whitening services so your teeth will be pearly white for all your holiday parties and family photos.
There are many teeth-whitening products on the market. The most effective and safest products are available through your dentist.
Whitening strips and over the counter whitening gels are easy, but they require consistent use over time to remove stains from your teeth. For the fastest, safest treatment, contact Murfreesboro Family Dentistry to schedule a quick, painless whitening service.