Many people are acutely aware that the holidays are a time of increased health concern. However, their vigilance often ends at the scale; it’s easy to neglect how all the sweets and indulgences of holidays affect our teeth as well as our waistlines. There are plenty of ways to be mindful of your oral health and keep your teeth strong during the holidays while still celebrating the season.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, the holidays may be your favorite time of year. You want to avoid cavities, but you also want to indulge a bit. If this is true for you, you can enjoy some chocolates and your favorite desserts in moderation. But there are a few types you absolutely must avoid:
Remember that there are many drinks that harm your teeth as well. For example, eggnog and hot chocolate are both loaded with sugar, which result in plaque that attack the enamel. Also be mindful of mixed drinks. Darker liquors or sodas used as mixers stain teeth. Drinkers who prefer these beverages can usually say goodbye to their white smiles.
One of the most prominent teeth stainers year round, and especially through the holidays is wine. The main cause of staining is from ‘chromogens’. These are pigment-producing substances that can adhere to enamel and stain teeth. In addition, the tannins in red wine help the chromagens bind to the teeth.
If you don’t want to avoid soda, liquor or wine, try to use a straw to augment your refreshment habits this holiday season. Straws can help keep drinks away from your teeth.
If you feel silly using a straw, you can also take small sips of water to rinse your teeth. The water can help wash away stains from drinks like wine or coffee.
If you do find yourself sneaking the occasional treat, it’s a good idea to brush after you eat. However, don’t brush right away. If you brush too soon after eating, the acid from food and drinks can actually wear down the enamel on your teeth even faster. Instead, wait one hour after eating to brush your teeth and give your saliva a chance to neutralize the acid in your mouth.
Stress around the holidays can really increase the desire to bite your nails. Not only can this bad habit harm your nails and skin, but it also makes it easier for viruses and bacteria to enter your body and can cause your teeth to weaken and lead to poor alignment. To help calm those nerves, try squeezing a stress ball or practicing deep breathing. Or, treat yourself to manicure. When your nails look attractive, you’re less likely to bite them. If none of that works, consider applying a bitter-tasting nail polish to keep you from biting.
Consider making a special trip after the holidays to check for problems and get your teeth back into prime condition. If you do develop a cavity or need any work done on your teeth, visit the Cosmetic Dentistry Center in New York City.