Edible goodies abound when the holiday decorations come out and the gift giving begins. The holidays are magical and full of cheer, but they can also bring on a toothache if you’re not careful. Many traditional holiday treats can crack or chip your teeth or damage tooth enamel. Mindful holiday dental care can make sure you don’t end up with a dental emergency when you’re supposed to be spending time with family and friends.
1. Avoid sticky, chewy sweets and treats
Caramels and toffees filled with nuts and other goodies might make your mouth water, but they could end up making your eyes water when they pull out fillings. Sugary, sticky foods can be difficult to remove from the teeth. Your saliva alone cannot wash them away. They may even resist a toothbrush.
While they’re stuck to the teeth, they create a breeding ground for bacteria. Sticky treats can also loosen or pull out fillings. (Caramel is a notorious filling fiend.) Watch out for nuts inside your sticky treats. Chomping down on a nut or hard toffee piece can crack or chip an unsuspecting tooth.
2. Only use your teeth for chewing
It’s funny how the holidays roll around, and suddenly your teeth become a multipurpose tool. No nutcracker around—why not use your teeth? Need to cut a thread—teeth are handy. Can’t break through that string on your Christmas present—your teeth might work. All of these situations get a big NO.
Cracks and chips are more likely to happen when you use your teeth for things other than eating and chewing. The extra time it takes to find a nutcracker or scissors can save you hours (and dollars) in a dentist’s chair.
3. Don’t chew hard candies or ice
Chewy candies aren’t the only treats that show up more often around the holidays. Hard candies are also a tradition in many homes and offices. These candies are designed to suck on, not to chew. Chewing on their hard surfaces can easily crack or chip a tooth. Cracks and chips can be unsightly, but they can also be incredibly painful, depending on how deep the damage goes.
Chewing on ice can cause similar damage to the teeth. Skip the ice and candy chewing and protect your teeth by sucking instead.
4. Stay hydrated
Dehydration can reduce saliva production, which can leave you susceptible to tooth decay. Cold winter temperatures around the holidays may mask your need to drink fluids. As part of your holiday dental care, make sure to drink at least 64 ounces of water each day, more if you’ve particularly active or perspiring more than usual. Watch out for drinks with alcohol or caffeine, which can contribute to dehydration.
5. Brush and floss
It’s tempting to stumble into bed after another late holiday party, leaving sugary goodies stuck to your teeth all night. However, it’s important to maintain your dental hygiene routine throughout the holidays. When you’re eating foods you don’t normally eat, many of them being sweet treats, a consistent brushing and flossing regime will protect your teeth from decay.
Just a reminder—brush twice a day and floss once a day.
6. Keep dental appointments
Schedules get busy with parties, shopping, and gift exchanges. When everything feels crazy, you might be tempted to put off your dental appointment until after the new year. However, if you have a scheduled dental cleaning during the holidays, keep that appointment. Timely holiday dental care can catch a cavity before it gets large and painful.
Dental issues during the holidays
Tips and tricks are great for preventing dental issues. However, sometimes problems arise even if you’re been taking good care of your teeth. Whether it’s a crack, chip, or decay that’s led to tooth loss or damage, we specialize in dental implants and are prepared to help.
At Good Samaritan Dental Implant Institute, we offer free consultations and personalized treatment plans. All of our dental implant patients also receive free yearly follow-up appointments for the life of their implant.