You’ve barely finished washing all the Thanksgiving dishes, yet Christmas is already knocking! You’re probably getting invites to holiday parties and cookie exchanges while bags of holiday cheer appear from neighbors, friends, and co-workers. Tis the season to eat lots of sweets! It’s not practical to avoid all sweet treats during the holidays, so let’s discuss some tips for how you can protect your teeth without being a Grinch!
Allow yourself to indulge in some sweets, but choose wisely. The best treats for your teeth are not too hard and sticky and don’t take too long to eat. The longer you expose your teeth to sugars, the more you weaken hard surfaces. A treat that has more sugar but that you eat in one sitting is better for your teeth because your teeth are not exposed to sugars for as long. Sodas and hard candy are especially bad for your enamel because you tend to nurse them for longer. Choose to consume dessert in one sitting instead of savoring it over the course of an hour or more.
Brush, but not right away
You might think that right after enjoying a treat you should go brush your teeth to clean off any sugar, but it’s actually better to wait a little bit! Eating sugar creates acid which weakens your enamel, but it re-hardens in about 30 minutes. If you rush to brush as soon as you finish eating you can remove parts of your enamel in your zeal to get your teeth clean. Protect your teeth by brushing about 30 minutes after you’ve finished your dessert.
Drink Plenty of Water
Add this to your list of 1,000,001 reasons to drink more water. Drinking generous amounts of water after you eat or drink sugary treats can help rinse away sugars and food particles. You don’t want all of that to sit on your teeth because it can weaken your teeth, but as we mentioned above you also don’t want to rush to brush. Also, most water has added fluoride which helps to counter-act the acid produced by bacteria after you eat sugar. Fluoride helps re-mineralize your teeth and strengthen the enamel. Enjoy a tall glass of water with your meals and especially with dessert.
Use a Real Swiss Army Knife
We know your teeth seem strong- they’re bone, right? But they are NOT made for cracking nutshells, opening beer bottles, or acting as a third hand. Invest in a real nutcracker and bottle opener! We promise they’re cheaper than replacing your teeth. Using your teeth for hard tasks like this can lead to chipping, breakage, or weakened enamel. Protect your teeth by skipping these shortcuts and grabbing the proper tools instead.
Don’t Go Hungry
Planning on going to a holiday party? Have a proper meal with balanced nutrition before you go. That way you’ll be able to enjoy a small number of cookies or cake without gorging yourself. When we’re hungry our eyes get too big and we eat more than we really need.
Stick to Your Routine
Even though you may be traveling a lot or staying up later than typical, keep time in your schedule for your full oral hygiene routine. In light of dietary changes, be intentional to brush, floss, and use a rinse to keep your pearly whites strong and healthy. We recommend keeping a small dental hygiene kit in your purse or car in case you forget or need to brush on the go. A small dental floss, travel toothbrush and paste, and small rinse don’t take up much space and are a smart investment to protect your teeth.
Enjoy your holidays, celebrate a little! Just make wise choices about your oral health by indulging in moderation and caring for your teeth afterward. From all of us at West One Family Dental, we hope your holiday season is filled with joy!