–“Everyone enters the Holiday season with promises to not overdo it,” says San Luis Obispo dentist, Dr. Douglas Ng. “Most of us are going to give in to temptation, and the best insurance for keeping our teeth healthy is a good dental hygiene program and counterbalance sugary foods with healthy food.”
Dr. Ng has some tips to help people have a great Holiday season and stay on top of their dental health. Along with the usual, and very important, advice to try to minimize alcohol, sweets, and other rich foods, the following tips help keep everyone on the dental health path.
- Pack a kit to help stick to the daily dental care routine
- Drink plenty of water
- Choose plaque-fighting food
- Sip and nibble
- Don’t open anything with your teeth
- Schedule a post-Holiday dental appointment now
Pack a dental care kit and stick to the daily routine
Brush every morning and brush and floss before bed. We just do it then, here come the after-work Holiday parties, late nights at parties, shopping, the kids’ school programs, and traveling. The daily dental routine gets off schedule pretty fast.
Packing a dental care kit and keeping it handy is a good idea any time, and especially during the Holiday season.
The kit includes floss, mouthwash, disposable toothbrushes, and maybe even some breath-freshening strips. Disposable toothbrushes, or special tooth wipes, can be thrown away instead of storing a wet toothbrush that might become a bacteria trap. Floss picks are less effective for reaching below the gum line to remove plaque than regular floss, but they are better than nothing during a busy day.
Dr. Ng, the San Luis Obispo dentist says, ”Slip a disposable toothbrush and small tube of toothpaste into a purse or pocket for a quick tooth brushing after dessert.” Also, rinsing out your mouth often during an evening out helps clean away bacteria and some of the food particles.
Party hosts! Supply the restroom countertops with big tubes of toothpaste, disposable toothbrushes, a bottle of mouthwash, small paper cups, and a small sign inviting guests to enjoy their regular dental care routine.
Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated is good for overall health, and helps avoid dry mouth that can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. The busier the season, the more important it is to stay hydrated.
Keep water handy for everything you do. Sip water during meals, even with coffee and alcoholic beverages. Substitute sugary drinks with sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh fruit.
The American Dental Association (ADA) reports that even though sparkling water is slightly more acidic to teeth, plain water and sparkling water are “all just plain water to your teeth.”
Choose plaque-fighting food
Good news! Holiday turkey is good for your teeth! Healthy food is good for overall health and dental health. There are some foods that are especially helpful for creating saliva and for helping remove plaque. These include:
- Apples, celery and carrots, and other crunchy foods that not only help create more saliva that washes plaque away and helps break down plaque around the gums.
- Cheese prevents acid from attacking tooth enamel. It also contains the protein, casein, which strengthens tooth enamel. Adult beverages are high in acid. Nibble on cheese between sips to help protect your teeth until you can brush and floss.
Eating and drinking tend to get a little out of control over the Holidays, but remembering to choose good healthy food for meals and snacks, and saving sweets for special treats is going to help keep teeth healthy and reduce extra pounds as well.
Remember to brush and floss!
Sip and nibble
Definitely give yourself permission to enjoy the feasting and drinking during the Holidays. There are not too many people who have the will power to not indulge just a little. But, instead of drinking the wine or the cocktail, or crunching that piece of hard candy, consider sipping and nibbling.
Sip drinks, especially alcoholic beverages. Choose alcoholic beverages that include club soda or sparkling water, and ask the bartender to go lighter on the alcohol. When your drink is getting low, add more sparkling water. Enjoy that special wine the host is serving by asking for a short pour, then savoring each sip.
Nibble the sweets. Let a small bite of fudge last longer by letting it dissolve instead of chewing it, same for that hard candy. Try to minimize, or even avoid, chewy sweets that stick to your teeth.
Don’t open anything with your teeth
When scissors are not available don’t try tearing the gift ribbon with your teeth! “Get up and get the scissors,” says the San Luis Obispo dentist. Don’t pull the cork out of the wine bottle with your teeth. Don’t crack even soft-shelled nuts with your teeth or crunch down on hard candy.
Schedule a post-Holiday dental appointment now
Schedule a post-holiday examination and teeth cleaning early instead of waiting until after the Holidays. For one thing, scheduling early is one less thing on the list of things to do. And, the appointment won’t keep getting put off during that after-holiday recovery slump.
Douglas Ng, D.D.S.
862 Meinecke Ave, #203
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
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