Keeping Your Teeth Healthy During the Holidays: Six Simple Tips

'Tis the season for festive decorations, crowded shopping malls, gift wrapping, and plenty of holiday parties. Unfortunately, 'tis also the season for neglected teeth. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, dental health often takes a backseat to checking items off that lengthy to-do list. What most people don't consider, however, is that teeth need more attention than ever during the holidays. Along with all of the merriment and spreading of good cheer, there's also plenty of opportunity for decay to sneak in during this festive time of year. So, if you want to avoid spending the New Year having a cavity filled in your dentist's chair, consider the following tips for good oral health during the holidays.

Be wary of candy canes. They're the quintessential Christmas treat that even Santa Claus hands out to children at the mall: candy canes. While the popular red-and-white striped peppermint candy might seem harmless enough, biting down on any type of hard candy can lead to chipped or cracked teeth. Of course, this doesn't mean that you have to turn down all candy cane offerings this holiday season; if you accept one, though, try to let it dissolve instead of chewing on it. Then, remember to follow-up with a good tooth brushing session.

Steer clear of red wine. Red wine is often a popular drink choice at holiday gatherings. Unfortunately, red wine is notorious for staining formerly white smiles. White wine is a safer bet for your smile, but if you truly prefer red, make sure to eat some food while you sip. That will help minimize the staining effects. When you get home, head for your toothbrush right away.

Make smart snacking choices. At most holiday gatherings, there's food everywhere you turn: a plate of cookies here, a tray of fudge over there. Not only will you be expanding your waistline by indulging in every available snack, but you'll also be putting your teeth at risk. Of course, that doesn't mean you have to go hungry at the neighbor's Christmas party. Instead, head for the veggie tray and munch on some celery and carrot sticks. Turkey is also a mouth-friendly choice, so don't hesitate to fill up your plate on Thanksgiving.

Just say no to soda. At many holiday parties, you're likely to find a beverage table boasting several soda choices. As tempting as it might be to indulge in a bubbly soda, think of your teeth before you take a sip of these sugary, acidic drinks. Make sure your children steer clear of these cavity-causing drinks too. Or, if you must indulge, minimize the potential damage by using a straw-- and, yes, brushing your teeth as soon as you arrive home.

Don't use your teeth as a tool. With all of the gift wrapping to complete during the holiday season, many people find themselves in a rush to get things done. This doesn't give you a free pass, however, to use your teeth as tools to help with the process. Your teeth are for chewing, not for opening packages and tearing tape. Doing so can result in chipped or cracked teeth-- and a hefty dental bill for the holidays.

Make smart stocking choices. Stockings are a fun holiday tradition, but they can be detrimental to oral health. Why? Often, stockings are overflowing with candy and other sweet treats. This holiday season, fill the stockings of your loved ones with mouth-friendly goodies, like sugar-free gum, an electric toothbrush, and a fresh tube of toothpaste.

Of course, another important aspect of keeping your smile healthy during the holidays is remembering to visit your dentist office for preventative care. Contact us today to learn more.