The holidays allow us to indulge in delicious food and spend quality time with loved ones.
However, enjoying the holidays is not an excuse to neglect oral health.
No matter how tasty the food, it is neither smart nor healthy to let dental problems ruin the holiday celebration.
Schedule a dental appointment before the holidays
If you wear braces, remember to be cautious of what you consume
If you’re traveling abroad, bring a mini first aid kit
Brush well after consumption of sugar
Incorporate more anti-cavity foods, such as cheese and yogurt, into your diet
Keep yourself hydrated
Make sure to keep up your oral hygiene routine
Stay away from, or reduce the intake of holiday treats
Prepare alternatives to sweets
Be careful when using your teeth
Allow plenty of time for planning
There are always alternatives and plan b’s
Get plenty of rest
Be mindful of what you consume
Just have fun
Fortunately, there are ways to upkeep your oral health during the holiday season:
Scheduling an appointment before the holidays allows one to check their oral health before taking a dive into sweets and other junk food. Keep your oral health in check to avoid possible disappointments such as tooth sensitivity that may disrupt your holidays.
Remember, the holidays consist of plenty of foods that are not friendly for metal braces. Toffee, popcorn, candy canes, peppermint bark, and other crunchy and sticky sweets may be harmful for your braces. Be aware of these foods, and keep caution if eaten. Have a list of emergency dentists or orthodontists on hand just in case.
Oral health-related problems do happen, sometimes when we least expect them to. That’s why the proper preparation, whether at home or traveling during the holidays, is crucial. Nothing is worse than traveling and not being prepared for potential emergencies.
A dental first aid kit should include floss and picks, a tooth saver, pain reliever, and if applicable, a lost filler and loose cap repairer. Of course, also bring along a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, and any other tools or appliances you require, especially if going through orthodontic treatment.
Let’s face it, there’s no avoiding sugar around the holidays, whether it be Easter or Christmas. After sugar consumption, the best thing you can do for your oral health is to tend to your hygiene. Brush thoroughly after eating sugar, specifically approximately 30 minutes after consuming such.
Sugar feeds bad oral bacteria. The more you consume, the more bad bacteria present in your mouth. One way to eliminate the risks of such is to include more probiotic (good bacteria) foods in your diet. This is vital around the holidays where sugar is a large component of one’s diet. That said, squeeze in some tooth-healthy foods including milk, cheese, yogurt, and fresh vegetables in between the junk food consumption.
One should drink plenty of fluids, especially water, around the holidays. Water has many positive effects on your overall health. Staying hydrated can help you prevent bad breath, cavities, and other potential problems as water aids in flushing out bacteria lingering in the mouth.
Holidays can throw off your schedule and daily routines, but you should still make sure to continue brushing your teeth at least twice a day. Skipping your oral hygiene routine for even just one day can eventually lead to problems.
Understandably, it may be difficult to avoid the temptation of indulging in sweets, gummies, candies, and pastries. Before consuming too many of these sweet treats, think about the effects they have on your physical and oral health. Try avoiding or reducing intake of wine, carbonated sodas, and sugary treats to reduce the likelihood of developing dental issues in the long run.
Holidays can be enjoyed without preparing a lot of sugar-loaded and carb-rich foods. It is wise to balance out meals by providing healthy alternatives. A fresh fruit salad with a dollop of whipped cream or a stevia-based carrot cake with light frosting can serve as healthy alternatives. This isn’t to say sweets should be completely avoided around the holidays but rather that one should be open to other options.
When shelling nuts, for instance, use a nutcracker rather than your teeth. Bear in mind that one wrong decision can cause a lot of discomfort and costly damage.
If peanut brittle, peppermint bark, or other hard-to-bite-into snacks are on the menu for your holiday party, ensure they are not too tough for you to eat, especially if you already have problems with your teeth or if you wear braces.
Furthermore, many holiday food and beverages are loaded with acid, making them hazardous to the teeth and other organs of the body. If you can’t resist these treats, thoroughly rinse your mouth with water after consumption and brush your teeth after a half hour.
Additionally, another factor that ruins our oral health is stress, something we all experience around the holidays. For this reason, learning to cope with and reduce stress is more important than ever before during this time.
Here are some anti-stress tips:
The best way to beat stress is to avoid it in the first place. Planning and scheduling holiday tasks ahead of time is key.
Having tasks pile up only increases stress and decreases the body’s fighting mechanism against harmful bacteria in the body. If stress is not in check, oral bacteria is certainly capable of causing cavities and other oral-related problems.
Don’t wait until the last minute to get things done, and if you have a lot to do, be sure to write them down to ensure they aren’t forgotten and that they eventually get done on time.
If your first intentions don’t go as planned, do not panic. Around the holidays, stressing over little things only causes further problems. Instead, think of alternative plans.
For instance, say your Thanksgiving dessert was a flop. Think of different desserts you can make, or purchase a store-bought one instead rather than trying to recreate the same dessert.
The point is, severe stress should never be an outcome of the holidays. Don’t fret what you can’t control, and let the little things slide.
A lack of sleep contributes to only more stress and a mind incapable of proper, thorough thinking when holiday plans do go wrong.
Getting plenty of sleep before and during the holidays gives you a refreshed mind ready to take on a variety of different issues from the stress of getting through your holiday shopping list to the pressure of cooking a homemade meal from scratch for your entire family.
While the holidays mean plenty of food and lots of sweets, making healthy choices with what you consume is important.
Besides not fostering cavities, healthy foods are excellent around the holidays, particularly for reducing stress. Not skipping out on meals, making sure you’re getting your daily dose of fruits and vegetables, and only eating a one or a couple desserts makes for a healthy body, a healthy mind, and as discussed, good oral health.
Remember, healthy food powers the brain, and a healthy brain means less stress, thus a stronger immune system to fight off oral infections and other issues in the mouth.
Stress-reducing foods and teas are also great to resort to during the holidays to reduce stress.
Don’t forget that the holidays are a fun and memorable time to spend with loved ones and that nothing should be taken too, too seriously.
Being thankful, happy, and having a good time is certainly important throughout this season, and that’s something one should never forget.
Don’t let stress overtake your holidays this year, and if you do, sit back and think, “Is this stress really worth it? Am I going to look back on this holiday and think, ‘All I did was stress? The holidays this year were no fun’? Is this something that won’t matter in a few months or years down the road?”
It matters to note that skipping dental checkups could get you on the naughty list, therefore you should make sure not to put them off. No matter what the holiday may be, it is never an excuse to ignore your oral health.
Enjoy your holiday meals and desserts, but remember not to overdo it, and always give your teeth a good brushing post-holiday.