4 Tips to Protect Your Holiday Smile
You can enjoy seasonal sweets and still have a cavity-free smile to flash in festive photos. These tips will keep your teeth healthy during the holidays.
Avoid over doing it with candy. It's the most wonderful time of year for candy canes, popcorn balls, and cookies -- and this nonstop buffet of sweets can wreak havoc on your teeth, says Steven Chussid, DDS. He's an associate professor of dental medicine at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.
Still, you don't have to skip holiday treats. "Eat a single dessert and brush your teeth afterward," Chussid says. "You'll expose your teeth to less sugar [with a single treat] than if you're constantly snacking, and that reduces the risk of tooth decay."
Snack smart. Use a nutcracker, not your teeth, to shell nuts. No nutcracker? Choose a different snack. "One poor decision can cause a lot of painful and expensive damage," Chussid says. "Is it worth it to break a tooth for a nut?"
Keep a routine
The holidays can upset your schedule, but you should still brush at least two times a day.
To keep up good habits on the go, stash a toothbrush and mini tube of toothpaste in your purse or briefcase and make time to "freshen up" after meals. If brushing your teeth isn't an option, chew sugarless gum, which boosts saliva, helps flush out food debris, and more.
Skipping a dental exam could get you on the naughty list. "It's much better to catch problems now and not put them off until the new year," Chussid says.
If your 6-month checkup falls during the holidays, consider it a celebration of good oral health -- and a holiday gift to yourself.
If you crack a tooth on grandma's peanut brittle, you may not be able to see your dentist. "Most dental offices are closed during the holidays," says Kimberly Harms, DDS. She's a dental consultant in Farmington, MN. If you have a dental emergency, Harms offers these tips.
Be prepared. Pack dental floss, gauze, and over-the-counter pain relievers with your toiletries to deal with minor dental problems when you travel.
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