The holidays are a busy time of the year, and there is a lot to think about. You have to pick out gifts, lay out travel plans, cook big meals for the whole family and much more. As the holidays become hectic, it is easy to fall out of sync with your oral care routines. In fact, all those holiday celebrations can be a big reason why you’re dealing with a cavity in the dental chair come January. Here are some tips for cavity-free holidays so you only get the things you want on your wish list this year, cavities not included!
The holidays and sweet treats are almost synonymous. It is hard to gather with friends and family and not indulge in a range of sweets like cakes, cookies, sugary drinks and more. There is nothing wrong with enjoying comfort foods now and again, but it’s important to keep moderation in mind before you reach for that third cookie. When all those sugars come in contact with your teeth, they act like a big feast for the bacteria in your mouth. The bacteria gobble up the sugars and in turn release acids that contribute to cavity growth. They also leave a sticky film that can turn into hard a substance called tartar if it is not properly removed with brushing and flossing. Those sweets taste great, but they come with a cost!
While sweets usually get top billing when it comes to cavity causers, it’s not just the sweets you have to worry about. Starchy substances like chips, bread, potatoes etc. can act much like sugar when you eat them. Worse yet, these foods have a tendency to get stuck to your teeth, which only makes cavity growth increase. You can even get a double dose of sugar and starchy foods in things like cake and cookies! Pair this with acidic beverages like soda and coffee that are popular around the holidays as well, and it might not be a merry season for your teeth!
When you drive over to grandma’s house for a holiday party, chances are you don’t bring your brush and floss. So how do you protect your teeth while still enjoying the festivities? First off, a straw can do wonders to keep those harmful beverages from sitting on your teeth after you drink. Make sure that you pop a straw in that soda should you choose to indulge, and give the kids straws to use as well. If you’re worried about environmental impacts, there are biodegradable straws that look and feel identical to the plastic kind. Next, since you don’t want to use a straw for hot beverages, always keep a glass of water handy if you have a cup of coffee. This way you can rinse the acid from your teeth to minimize exposure.
As for sweet and starchy foods, moderation is the number one priority. Make sure you bring healthy choices as well like a vegetable tray. If you have to consume some of those famous cookies at your party, it’s actually best to do so before dinner. As you sit down to a meal, all the chewing will stimulate saliva, which is the mouth’s natural defense against bacteria. Try to have a salad or fibrous vegetables as part of the main course. These foods will actually help clean your teeth and minimize bacteria while you eat.
While there are some tricks you can use for cavity-free holidays, nothing beats good old brushing and flossing for cavity prevention. Even if you pass out on the couch after that big meal, make sure you brush before bed. Then first thing in the morning, start your day with two full minutes of brushing. In addition, break out the floss once a day. If you’re traveling, make sure to pack all the care items you need. Don’t worry if you forget something, the local store always has what you need. The important thing is not to let holiday travel disrupt your normal oral care routines.
We wish you and your entire family happy holidays! May this season be more enjoyable than ever, and yes, you can still have those sweets and holiday foods you love. Just exercise moderation and use the above tips to minimize any cavity growth. More importantly, don’t let those brushing habits slip. When you’re ready to start the New Year with a fresh checkup, we’re here to help.
Schedule your appointment today to start next year on the right foot!