The holiday season can be an incredible time of joy and celebration. For teeth, however, holidays can be tough. An abundance of delicious, sugar-laden candies, cookies, cakes, and drinks seems ever-present, threatening to cause decay. Here are some simple tips to help protect your teeth from cavities while still enjoying the festivities of the season:
1. Choose Sugar-Free Options
Sugar is the primary cause of dental decay due to its triggering of acid release in your mouth and avoiding it can go a long way toward protecting your teeth. But going sugar-free doesn't have to mean giving up sweetness. Today there is a wide variety of sugar-free sweetener options available that can let you enjoy the taste of foods you love without the risk of cavities. Xylitol in particular can actively help protect teeth due to its antibacterial properties.
2. Watch Your Drinking
Many people don't realize that foods and soft drinks aren't the only danger to the wellbeing of your teeth; sugars and acids in alcoholic drinks can also a potential source of decay. While your body can naturally resist temporary exposure to sugars or acids and remineralize vulnerable enamel, continuously sipping alcoholic drinks over the course of a few hours interferes with that process and, without the opportunity to regenerate deteriorated enamel, you can be left with cavities. Taking a break from drinking and switching to mineral water can help protect your teeth by both naturally rinsing away food particles and neutralizing acidity.
3. Chew Sugar-Free Gum
Chewing sugar-free gum is a great way of promoting saliva production and fortifying your teeth against cavities while allowing you to enjoy something tasty at the same time. Look for gums with the ADA seal to indicate that they are sweetened by non-cavity causing sweeteners such as xylitol, aspartame, sorbitol, and mannitol and ADA approved for efficacy. While chewing gum is not a replacement for brushing and flossing, it can be an important part of your larger oral health strategy in between brushings.
4. Choose Your Sweets Thoughtfully
No one expects you to abstain from sugar entirely, especially if it means missing out on delicious holiday treats. However, some sweets and eating patterns are more tooth-friendly than others and making smart choices can let you indulge while minimizing risk. Caramel candies, for example, can stick to teeth until you brush them away, increasing potential for harm. Selecting sweets that don't cling to teeth, such as dark chocolate, cuts down on potential damage to enamel. Consider also how long you will be eating a particular item; a piece of cake or a cookie that you consume within a few minutes will be far more tooth-friendly than a candy cane, which can keep your teeth exposed to a constant stream of sugar for much longer. Finally, resist grazing and keep your sweet consumption confined to meal times to give your mouth a chance to recover.
5. Maintain Your oral Hygiene
The holidays can be a stressful and busy time that takes you out of your regular routine and can disrupt your normal hygiene practices. If you're travelling, make sure you pack all your toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss in your carry-on bag so you're not caught without them. Even if you're staying home, you may not feel up for flossing after an exhausting day of holiday celebrations. But taking the extra 5 minutes to keep on top of your dental hygiene can prevent a host of oral health issues down the line and leave you feeling refreshed. If you find yourself continuously eating sugary foods throughout the day, add an extra brushing.
If you need guidance to establish a good oral hygiene routine or want to start the new year with renewed oral health, consult an experienced dentist with the expertise to help you optimize your dental wellbeing.
Dr. Kvarnstrom and his team provide the highest level of dental care and offer a complete range of preventive, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry services using the most modern technologies available for optimal comfort. Contact us for more information about our practice or to set up an appointment at our Fountain Valley office.