All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth. Well, maybe add some oral health to the Christmas list? The festive red-and-green holiday? means an abundance of tasty sweets, sugary drinks and rich food. Fortunately, today we can do more than simply wish to avoid cavities, bad breath and other problems. Here's the best five ways to take care of your smile during the festivities:
1. Avoid an excess of holiday drinks, including apple cider, eggnog and hot chocolate. While these beverages may make you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside, they're leaving your teeth out in the cold. Hot cider packs more than 65 grams of sugar when decorated with caramel and whipped cream, while eggnog has more than 20 grams of sugar per cup. On top of that, the alcohol in the drinks can dry out the mouth, leaving it more prone to odor-producing bacteria and cavities.
2. Limit holiday sweets. Candy canes are a particular doozy, since they're essentially pure sugar. The biggest issue occurs when people suck on candy canes over a stretch of time, as this allows the sugars drench your teeth, wearing down enamel. Caramels are another dental nightmare, as the sticky substance clings to molars long past the moment you chew it. Sugary snacks, especially cinnamon-flavored options, can lead to bothersome canker sores.
"No one wants to be the Grinch about enjoying all the special experiences of the holidays, particularly the tasty treats that are usually around," Dr. Bill Kohn, Delta Dental Plans Association's vice president for dental science and policy, explained. "Try to enjoy in moderation, and if you find yourself overindulging, perhaps spend some extra time flossing and brushing at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste."
3. Schedule a visit to your dentist. During regular check-ups, make sure your kids are getting fluoride treatments until at least age 15. Children in particular consume stockings worth of sugar throughout the year, which breaks down into a byproduct of acid that wears down teeth. Fluoride is an excellent treatment in both neutralizing those acids and rebuilding enamel.
Ever notice that the Grinch never shows his teeth when smiling? That's likely because he hasn't seen a dentist in Whoville in a while. Luckily, we can change that. Your dentist would love to see you during the holiday season.
4. Besides giving your kids an new Xbox under the tree, it's not a bad idea to throw in an electric toothbrush on the side. Most electric brushes have a built-in timer to ensure that the full brushing is done at each session. Improper brushing can result in swollen gums, plaque build-up and overall poor oral health. According to a study conducted at the University of England, electric brushes with rotating bristles reduced plaque by more than 10 percent while lowering signs of gingivitis by 6 percent. Your kids might not be too grateful now, but they'll certainly thank you down the line.
5. Take a deep breath and try not stress yourself out. The holidays are a time for relaxation. When you feel overwhelmed, it actually affects the health of your mouth. Individuals with high anxiety levels often experience dry mouth. This is because saliva, a natural cleansing agent that rinses out the mouth, diminishes up to tenfold. This leaves odorous bacteria around, leaving you more prone to problems such as bad breath and canker sores.
Once little Johnny's two front teeth come in, he'll finally be able to whistle, thank you for his great teeth and wish everyone a Merry Christmas.