Holiday Dental Care Tips
Oral Care Advice from Dr. Forcioli
The holidays are here with all the hustle, bustle, and indulgence we love. Families and friends get together to eat, drink, and be merry. But indulging in sweets and treats during the busiest time of the year can lead to severe consequences for your dental health. With all the rushing around, gift wrapping, and celebrating, you may not find time to care for your teeth and gums properly. Keep these tips in mind during the holidays to protect your teeth now and in the future.
Monitor Children’s Candy and Soda Intake
It’s tempting to let the little ones indulge in extra snacks, decadent desserts, and sugary drinks during the holidays. After all, friends and family are baking cookies and trying out new recipes that are so tempting. We know overindulging in candies and sweet, sticky foods contributes to tooth decay, especially when kids may not be paying attention to proper brushing at the end of a busy day. Monitor children’s sugar intake to help prevent tooth damage that can’t be reversed when the decorations are put away.
Make a Gift of Good Oral Hygiene
Most people don’t replace their toothbrushes as often as they should. Old, worn toothbrushes do not clean teeth effectively and can harbor bacteria. If you can’t remember the last time you got a new toothbrush, you’re overdue for a new one. Tuck a new toothbrush into every child’s stocking or give it as a Hannukah gift during the festival of lights. An electric toothbrush that plays music or lights up can make brushing teeth more fun for the kids.
Wear a Mouthguard While Skating or Sledding
Ice skating and sledding can lead to a high-impact accident, and the frozen ground is particularly unforgiving. Winter sports require a mouthguard to protect teeth and gums from damage. Unfortunately, a tooth knocked out begins to die within fifteen minutes, creating a dental emergency. (Dentists estimate that over 3 million children knock out a tooth every year!). Dr. Forcioli recommends wearing a mouthguard to help prevent tooth damage so that you can enjoy the winter wonderland with a healthy smile.
Avoid Wine or Brush After Drinking
The effect of wine on your teeth can be dramatic. While red wine can stain teeth, both red and white wines are highly acidic and contribute to the deterioration of tooth enamel. This combination of staining and enamel erosion can be harmful from an aesthetic and functional standpoint. Over time, teeth appear yellow and are more susceptible to decay and bacteria. If you drink wine, do so in moderation, and brush your teeth after drinking to remove the acid that leads to decay.
Don’t Abuse Your Teeth
We’ve all done it – ripped open a package with our teeth when we can’t find the scissors. Resist the temptation, or you could end up with a broken or cracked tooth. Today’s packaging is often stronger and more resistant to tearing. You could end up in the dentist’s office instead of wrapping gifts.
Eating nuts is healthy, but opening unshelled nuts with your teeth is a no-no. Other food treats that can lead to cracked or chipped teeth include hard-tack candy, sticky caramels, and popcorn. You can eat these treats in moderation but avoid using your teeth to crack things open and be aware of the potential for damage from hard, sticky foods.
Dental insurance benefits do not roll over into the new year. Because most dental insurance runs for one year, then resets on the first day of the new year, you lose your benefits if you haven’t used them by the end of the year. In addition, when your new coverage starts, you will once again have to pay a deductible before your coverage takes over. For anyone with dental insurance coverage, the holidays are the ideal time to schedule one last dental appointment. If you have not used all your dental benefits for the year, now is the time to have any needed dental work performed.
Make Oral Health Your New Year’s Resolution
There’s no better time than the New Year for resolving to improve your health. Resolving to take care of your teeth and gums helps preserve the beauty of your smile and ensures your teeth will still be strong and healthy for future holidays. A few possible resolutions to make may include:
- Flossing daily and brushing twice a day
- Reducing sugar intake
- Quit smoking
- Invest in an electric toothbrush or water flosser
- Make sure you stay hydrated
- See your dentist twice a year
Preserving your dental health can be difficult any time of year, but it’s easy to let things slide during the holidays. Keep our holiday dental tips in mind as you move through the next several weeks so you can start the New Year with a beautiful, healthy smile!