Here we are: it’s mid December and the holidays are in full swing. You’re probably thinking about gifts to buy, meals to cook, desserts to bake, family to host, or travel plans: anything but your teeth, right? Just because the holidays are in full swing doesn’t mean you can ignore your health, especially your oral health. This can be the worst time of year for your smile!
The constant sweets and rich foods are a great way to kick off the cavity season along with the holidays. It isn’t necessarily hard to keep your teeth healthy this time of year but it requires commitment. You need to be sure you aren’t engaging in bad oral care habits that could lead to problems in the new year! On behalf of all of us at Northwest Dental Group in Rochester we hope you have a mouth-healthy holiday with these great tips.
Sugar: Great For Celebrating, Not For Teeth
What’s your favorite holiday treat? Sugar cookies? Eggnog? There are a lot of wonderful sweets available this time of year and we’ll all be indulging a bit over the next few weeks. It’s important to remember that in the middle of all that fun there’s still the need to protect your teeth, and sugar is their number one enemy!
Sugar is metabolized into acid by the bacteria in your mouth. That acid eats away at your teeth, causing the beginnings of cavities that can ruin your teeth. But all is not lost: you can protect your teeth during the holidays easily. Make sure to not slack on your brushing and flossing: that’s the most essential way to keep you teeth safe from the threats of sugar.
Also be sure to put down that mug of cocoa or glass of eggnog once in a while. Your body needs water to be happy and so do your teeth. Water washes away food particles, bacteria, and acid while also promoting saliva production. All of that is fundamental to preventing cavities.
Feeling Stressed? Be Careful!
Stress is definitely a different beast this time of year. Everyone has a lot on their plates, and we’re not just talking about those snacks! Stress affects all of us differently, and many people carry their worry in a dangerous place for their oral health: their jaw.
Many people suffer from bruxism, or grinding and clenching the jaw, due to stress. Many people don’t even realize they’re putting pressure on their jaws, leading to pain that they don’t seem to have an explanation for.
Over time bruxism can lead to problems with your jaw joint, causing chronic pain in your face, neck, head, and mouth. Some patients might even have a hard time opening and closing their jaws.
You can prevent this pain by being aware of your stress level. Don’t forget that the holidays are supposed to be enjoyable, not exhaustingly stressful! We recommend designating a close friend or family member as a stress buddy that can tell you when it’s time to take a little time for yourself.
Using Your Teeth As Tools? Not So Fast!
There are a lot of reasons people use their teeth as tools and the holidays just add more to the mix: opening plastic packages, cutting ribbons, and cracking nuts and hard candy are all common holiday problems that are solved with teeth.
Your teeth are tough, but they aren’t tough enough for those purposes. Even one wrong bite can leave you with chipped, damaged, or seriously fractured teeth that can ruin a holiday. The force used to perform those tasks is simply too much for your teeth. While you might not see a lot of risk in cracking open that package with your canines you’d be surprised how easily it can cause devastating harm and pain!
Protect Your Teeth All Year Round
These tips are great things to remember all year but there’s one that’s even better: remembering to see us at Northwest Dental Group for regular cleanings and exams! Six month checkups can be the one thing standing between good dental health and a mouth full of trouble, so don’t ignore the needs of your teeth!