No matter what combination of holidays your family celebrates, the end of the year is a busy time. For a few weeks, you may find yourself eating out as much as you eat in, being offered ten times as many sweets as usual, and finding more alcohol pouring than usual. All this can do a number on your oral health, meaning that if you’re not careful you might need reconstructive dentistry at your next appointment, like tooth-colored fillings or even a dental crown.
Here are a few tips for keeping your maintaining your oral health despite the rush.
Choose Less Soda
When you eat out for fast food or attend a part occasionally, it’s not a big deal to enjoy a soda, but if you’re eating out or attending a party practically every day all those sodas can more significantly damage your teeth. Try choosing 100% juice–not the artificial punch or lemonade that’s in the fountain–milk, coffee, or even water when eating out, if possible.
At parties, beer and wine are better for your teeth and gums than soda, but there are some caveats (see below). There are many delicious holiday favorites that can be hard to pass up, like hot cider, egg nog, and punch. Enjoy these in moderation, and chase with water. Remember that you don’t want to brush right after enjoying holiday treats, as it can erode enamel that’s been softened by acidic drinks or by bacterial attack.
This isn’t just about avoiding drinking and driving–which you should also do–it’s about avoiding damage to your teeth. Although wine and beer are both better for your teeth than soda, this isn’t a blank check to drink as much as you want. If you drink too much, you can dry your mouth out, which exposes your teeth and gums to attack by bacteria. And sometimes if you drink too much, you might not be as diligent about oral care after the party as you should be.
Space alcoholic drinks apart with water. This will help rinse and clean your teeth and keep you hydrated and hopefully sober–especially at the office party!
There are going to be so many cookies and candies around that you might find yourself tempted to snack all day from now until the end of the year. It’s okay to enjoy a little bit, but be smart about it. Try to avoid hard candies–which give a slow release of sugar that is ideal for feeding oral bacteria–and anything that sticks to your teeth.
As tempting as it is, keep snacking to a minimum. Constant snacking through the day keeps oral bacteria fed and allows them to spend more time attacking your teeth. Try to assemble your treats into mini dessert meals. This will not only help you keep better track of how much you’re eating, but will minimize damage, especially if you–yep, you guessed it–rinse your mouth with water after eating.
See You Next Year
And, of course, it’s a good idea to schedule a dental appointment for as soon as things settle down again. That way, you can get your teeth thoroughly cleaned and have any damage assessed and repaired–if necessary–before it becomes too serious.