Whether you’re ready for the holiday season or it snuck up on you again, December is zipping by and holidays are right around the corner. This time of year is often synonymous with sugary treats, boozy drinks, and piled-high plates–in other words, dental damage and overload. But, with mindful decisions and consistent care, you can indulge yourself and keep your dental health jolly.
Keep a consistent dental routine. Even if you’re tempted by late night treats or the kids want to stay up to wait for Santa, maintaining your regular dental habits is important – especially since you’ll likely be indulging in more treats.
Fruits and veggies aren’t just for the reindeer. The holidays are full of sweet treats, indulgent carbs, and creative cocktails–don’t forget to add fruits and veggies to your plate. They’ll ensure a balanced diet and the process of eating them will help clean away some of the stickier and sugary choices. Make sure you buy enough carrots for eating and feeding Rudolph.
- Keep sipping water. It’s easy to forget to stay hydrated, especially when there are sodas, juices, cocktails, and cider near at hand. Those drinks don’t count for hydration. Aim to avoid drinking them but if you’re going to grab a glass, alternate between your beverage of choice and a glass of water. It’ll keep you hydrated and cut back on the amount you’re consuming.
- Candy canes aren’t for crunching. While it’s best to minimize the amount of time you’re sucking on and chewing candies, hard candies like peppermints or brittles can crack your teeth if you bite down wrong or with too much force. It’s often better to suck on them–you’ll minimize damaged teeth and you’ll be able to savour your treat longer so you won’t eat as many.
- Cheese plate? Yes, please. The pH balancing effect of cheese makes it a dental do, especially when paired with wines and boozy beverages. The cheese will help neutralize acids and the added calcium is excellent for teeth and bones.
- Reaching for seconds? Say yes to turkey. It’s an excellent source of phosphorus and protein which can support strong teeth and prevent decay.
- Try to avoid all-day snacking. The holidays often mean spreads of delicious food all the time but try to resist grazing throughout the day. Constant eating means your mouth is exposed to acids for extended periods of time–plus constant nibbling isn’t great for your waistline either.
- Your teeth aren’t tools. You might be tempted to use your teeth to expedite that gift opening or save a minute with that tape. Resist and grab a pair of scissors or the proper tool. Although your teeth may seem up for the task, using them for these tasks can lead to chips or broken teeth.
- Playing some shinny or other sports? Don’t forget your mouthguard. It’s easy to forego the extra safety precautions but it can be the difference between cracking or losing a tooth and keeping it.
- December gets busy. You might be tempted to cancel your regular dental appointment but you should resist. Your dental health is important and if you’re due for a cleaning or have work scheduled, following through is essential.
- Be prepared when visiting, especially out of town. Pack your usual dental tools (brush, paste, floss, and rinse), and add in some dental gauze and painkillers just in case of a minor dental situation. Take your dental benefits policy information and your dental office’s contact information–or better yet, save it in your phone–in case you need to get some help. You might not be able to reach your regular dentist so ask them for a referral for emergency and check into where the nearest emergency dental clinic is. If you do have a dental dilemma, don’t delay in treatment; call the emergency contact or if you’re out of town, contact a local dentist. Most of us set aside time for emergencies – even for people who aren’t regular patients.
- Enjoy the holiday, not just the food. Don’t forget to just enjoy the time with your family. Try to plan get-togethers and activities that aren’t focused on food, drinks or desserts. Enjoy some winter activities, pull out the board games, or binge on some holiday movie classics.
Continue to take care of your dental hygiene during the holidays and give yourself the gift of excellent oral health this coming year, and all the years to come.