Holiday Oral Health Tips

This Holiday Season, Eat, Drink, and Be Very Good to Your Teeth

While we all know that the holiday season can be tough on your wallet and your waistline, did you also know it can pose some danger to your gumline? Holiday events and traditions, such as family and work parties, are often a big part of the end of the year. However, some aspects of this holiday season may not bring comfort and joy to your mouth and can actually cause injury to your teeth.

Enamel is the top layer of the tooth and is the hardest substance found in the body. The enamel is what protects the inner part of your tooth from injury. When enamel is weakened, your tooth can become more susceptible to problems, including cracking and breaking.

Therefore, you may not want to take a “crack” at putting certain items in your mouth. Accidentally biting down on small, hard objects—such as candy canes, chocolate gelt coins, ice cubes, or food decorations—can cause a cracked tooth.

While many of us enjoy consuming seasonal holiday foods and drinks, use caution when being home for the holidays and eating or drinking anything overly acidic, sugary, or sticky. Acidic foods and drinks, such as citrus fruits and juices, wine, soft drinks, and sweetened mixed drinks, can actually cause enamel erosion over time. It is better to sip beverages through a straw to minimize exposure of the acids to the tooth enamel. Also, try to avoid sticky toffees and candy, as they can loosen or even remove fillings and crowns.

If you experience sensitivity to cold and/or sweetness, there are steps you can take to relieve the discomfort. Rinse your mouth with a mouthrinse containing fluoride, and brush and floss your teeth.  If the sensitivity continues, try a toothpaste designed to limit sensitivity.

Lastly, while giving and receiving holiday gifts can be enjoyable, they can also pose problems for your oral health. Many people use their teeth to cut through strings and tape, open packages, and remove tags from new clothing. Be warned that these practices can cause your teeth to chip, crack, or even break. So always use a pair of scissors to open your child’s new toy or remove that tag from a new sweater—never use your teeth.

By following some simple guidelines, you can enjoy the most wonderful time of the year—with a bright, healthy smile.

Source:  Massachusetts Dental Society

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