As stores gear up for the festive season fast approaching, we look forward – as you probably do – to the warmth of family dinners and holiday traditions. It’s a time we appreciate here, a chance to spend priceless moments with the ones we love and gather together for delicious food and festive drinks.
Here at Meza Dental, it’s a time to reflect on all the wonderful people that we have met over the last year and to be proud of the work we do. It’s a real source of happiness for our team to think of our patients over the holidays and to picture their happy, beautiful smiles.
Especially patients like Gloria (who we met a while ago and who has struggled with her teeth for years- read her story here). For Gloria, it will be a real treat to smile for the photos without feeling self-conscious and to eat a turkey dinner without suffering tooth pain.
But as we all know, the holidays can be challenging when it comes to dental health! During the holidays, it can be tempting to toss our regular routine out the window and indulge in our favorite traditions- and honestly, what’s life without close friends, good food, and the occasional party?
Fortunately, you can do plenty of things over the holiday season to protect your smile without compromising on the fun and the food. All it takes is a little knowledge and planning.
So dust off your Christmas sweater (or T-shirt, if you’re with us in the tropics), find your blinking office party tie and prepare for the festivities. Meza Dental has your back with this Happy Holidays Guide so you can celebrate and keep your teeth happy and healthy!
Are My Teeth Vulnerable?
The first step to protecting your teeth from stains, cavity-causing bacteria, and breakage is to understand when you might be at risk. While all teeth, both natural and artificial are vulnerable to a point- there are some conditions that can weaken your enamel and make them more likely to stain, crack, or break.
Some of them will make you nod and say “well that’s just common sense”, but others may surprise you:
- Large fillings can leave teeth weaker than usual and that can lead to broken teeth. Especially if you bite down on something hard, like an unpopped kernel of corn or a candy cane.
- Age. Our enamel gradually wears off over the course of our lifetime, making our teeth more likely to stain and crack the older we get.
- Acrylic dentures or bridges are much more vulnerable to staining than the more modern materials like composite resin and zirconium.
- Gum disease (Periodontitis) — one of the symptoms of periodontitis is receding gums, which can leave the root of the tooth exposed and vulnerable to decay (since the root of the tooth has thinner enamel than the rest). If you have a sensitivity to hot and cold foods, this may apply to you.
- Vitamin deficiencies can lead to brittle tooth enamel and can be caused by poor diet, but also by medical conditions that prevent the body from properly absorbing certain vitamins and minerals.
- Osteoporosis of the jaw is a condition that weakens your jawbone and can result in loose teeth. Loose teeth are more likely to break or even fall out if you bite into something hard.
- Diabetes is a relatively common condition today, it can affect the health of your jaw and your gums, but in this instance, it’s important to know that it increases the level of sugar in your saliva. Combine that with a bunch of holiday candy and you could end up with some unexpected cavities.
- Genetic conditions such as Dentinogenesis Imperfecta and Amelogenesis Imperfecta can cause teeth to come in with thin, fragile tooth enamel which is easily damaged. If you have this condition, you need to take extra care of your teeth.
If you fall under any of these categories, don’t worry! It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the festivities just like everyone else. It just requires a little more preparation.
Plan Ahead to Enjoy These Festive Foods
As we mentioned in our recent article Do Home Remedies Work, plenty of food and drink items can affect your teeth’s health and appearance. Perhaps the most well-known are things that stain, like red wine, coffee, or tea. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid them altogether, but knowing that it’s an issue and being prepared can go a long way toward maintaining that fresh, bright smile. Especially if you recently had your teeth cleaned (or have any form of crown, implant, or bridge).
Luckily, modern materials such as zirconium are much more stain resistant than some of the materials used by our grandparents, so keeping your new teeth clean is much easier. However it’s important to understand how these items can damage your teeth, so you don’t inadvertently help them along.
For instance, most people understand that foods with high acidity can damage tooth enamel, so their first instinct will be to pack a toothbrush and toothpaste along with their dancing shoes and brush right after dinner.
While we applaud those people for planning ahead and making the extra effort, brushing your teeth while they are covered in acidic substances can actually help the acids work their way into the enamel. Here are some of our favorite tips to keep your festivities focused on fun!
Here are some things we recommend so you can enjoy your party without worrying:
- Don’t forget your normal daily dental care routine.
- Brushing/flossing your teeth is a great way to keep them clean and bright, however, if you have had something highly acidic (like citrus), or abrasive (like sour candies), an important first step is to remove that residue before you brush. Swish/gargle with some water or mouthwash before you brush.
- If you don’t have a toothbrush or mouthwash and you are worried about acidic foods, some milk will neutralize the acids. So will rinsing with baking soda in water.
- Another great way to help your teeth (and your tummy) deal with those massive holiday spreads is to eat plenty of raw, crispy vegetables like carrots. They are healthy for you, they will fill you up, and they naturally scour other less beneficial foods from tooth enamel. It’s a win-win!
- Drink lots of water. It’s good for your body (including your teeth) and it will help to rinse away food and beverage residue at the same time.
- Avoid grazing. It may not seem like a bad idea to nibble all day, but when you eat, your body produces more saliva which contains acids designed to help break down food. When you nibble for a long time, those extra acids can hurt your enamel (or artificial teeth).
- Schedule a cleaning for shortly after the holidays, so you can start the year off bright and shiny.
- This one may seem silly–but don’t use your teeth to tear wrapping, break ribbon, or pry open packaging. We’ve all done it. It’s a bad idea, and getting that chip repaired over the holidays can be hard.
- Beware of extremely hard foods, like peanut brittle, toffee/taffy, candy, and Aunt June’s 3-week-old gingerbread house. Yes, they may taste great, but you wouldn’t believe how often an errant bite sends people to our office!?
And We’re Here to Help
Of course, sometimes even the best intentions aren’t enough and you find yourself needing a little extra oral care when the tree eventually comes down and life returns to normal. If that’s the case, we are here to help. Whether it’s an extra cleaning session or you missed the comment about Aunt June’s gingerbread and you chipped a tooth, you can reach out to us for a free consultation at the contact information below.
Just click this link for our free estimate, or you can get in touch via telephone toll-free anywhere in North America at 1-(877)-337-6392, or by emailing us at email@example.com. Our friendly English-speaking staff is always happy to answer any questions you may have.
Happy Holiday from the Meza Dental Family!