As Christmas and the festive holiday season approaches, it’s easy to get caught up in the joy of celebrations and indulgent treats. While this is, of course, perfectly expected, it’s important not to forget about your dental health as you enjoy holiday feasts and indulge in sweet temptations more than usual.
Neglecting your teeth during this time could lead to unwelcome dental issues down the road. So, in this article, we'll explore some simple yet effective ways to ensure that your teeth stay healthy and happy throughout the holiday season.
How to Protect Your Oral Health Over the Christmas Period (14 Useful Tips)
The Christmas period is a time of joy, festivities, and delicious treats, but it can also pose challenges to your oral health. To ensure that your teeth stay in top shape during this merry season, follow these practical tips:
1. Moderation is Key
It's perfectly fine to enjoy your favourite holiday treats, but remember to do so in moderation. You don’t have to eat all those Christmas sweeties on Christmas Day itself!
Excessive consumption of sugary snacks and drinks can increase the risk of tooth decay. Where possible, when you are making a choice on what to buy yourself, consider switching from sugary foods to sugar-free alternatives, like choosing diet drinks over regular ones. For example, if you are a big Coca Cola fan, consider switching to Green Cola instead which is sweetened with plant-based stevia and contains no sugar at all.
2. Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of water not only keeps you hydrated but also helps rinse away food particles and acids that can harm your teeth. Opt for water over sugary drinks whenever possible.
Even if you’re not a big fan of water, make it a habit to drink water after a meal to aid with oral health. Or even just swish your teeth with water! As Nature Journal point out:
“Swishing 20-30 ml of water after eating food or consumption of soft drinks and also between meals for two to five minutes can be of help in removal of loosened food particles, dead cells and mucus from the oral cavity.”
3. Maintain Your Oral Care Routine
Don't let the holiday hustle and bustle disrupt your daily oral care routine. Continue to brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss once a day, and consider using mouthwash to remove plaque and food debris.
There may be late nights and more events than usual, but make your oral health care routine a priority. Perhaps take dental floss or tooth picks with you if you are eating out more than usual, or pop a small bottle of mouthwash in your bag to use on the go.
4. Consider Safer Alternatives
If you're a smoker, think about taking up vaping instead of traditional cigarettes, as it may have fewer harmful effects on your oral health. Based on the findings of this pilot study, it can be concluded that e-cigarettes appear to have a positive impact on both periodontal (oral health) and general health status in comparison to traditional cigarettes.
Research is still needed, so perhaps the best course of action is to quit altogether and replace the sticks with nicotine patches instead to keep all smoke and vape away from your teeth and gums!
5. Choose Wisely
When selecting holiday treats, opt for options that are less harmful to your teeth. For example, dark chocolate is a better choice than sticky toffees or hard candies, as it's less likely to stick to your teeth.
If you do choose sticky toffee as you can’t resist, then be sure to drink water after and even eat some naturally fibrous fruits and vegetables afterwards to help clear sticky toffee and sugar from your teeth.
6. Timing Matters
If you indulge in sugary or acidic foods, try to do so during mealtime rather than snacking throughout the day. This can help reduce the frequency of acid attacks on your teeth.
7. Chew Sugar-Free Gum
Chewing sugar-free gum, particularly those containing xylitol, can be beneficial for your oral health. This is because it stimulates saliva production, which plays a crucial role in neutralising acids and protecting your teeth.
In fact, a systematic review conducted on this topic found compelling evidence. People who regularly chew sugar-free gum, especially those with xylitol, were shown to have significantly reduced plaque buildup. When specifically focusing on xylitol gum, the results of a meta-analysis further confirmed its effectiveness in reducing the quantity of plaque in the oral cavity. This evidence suggests that chewing sugar-free gum, particularly xylitol sugar-free gum, can be an effective way to maintain better oral hygiene when compared to those who do not chew sugar-free gum or have no chewing habits at all.
8. Wait before brushing
It's generally recommended to wait 30-60 minutes after eating before brushing your teeth, especially if you've consumed acidic foods or beverages. Brushing immediately after eating acidic items can potentially harm the enamel, as the acid softens the tooth surface temporarily.
9. Use a Straw
When enjoying sugary or acidic beverages like fruit juices or cocktails, use a straw to minimise direct contact between the liquid and your teeth.
10. Limit Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol can contribute to dry mouth, which can increase the risk of tooth decay. Consume alcoholic beverages in moderation and drink water in between to stay hydrated.
11. Take Breaks from Snacking
Continuous snacking can lead to prolonged exposure of your teeth to sugars and acids. Try to take breaks between snacks and meals to allow your saliva to naturally clean and protect your teeth.
12. Practice Mindful Eating
Pay attention to what you're eating and enjoy the flavours. This can help you avoid overindulging in sugary treats. Take your time and don’t rush your meals or snacks.
13. Stay Active
Regular physical activity can contribute to overall health, including oral health. Stay active during the holiday season to maintain good overall well-being.
14. Don’t Forget Dental Appointments
If you have a routine dental check-up scheduled during the holidays, don't skip it. Regular dental visits are essential for catching and addressing any dental issues early.
Final Thoughts on Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene During the Christmas Holidays
Remember, these suggestions are meant to help you maintain good oral health during the holiday season. By incorporating these tips into your routine, you can enjoy the festivities while keeping your smile bright and healthy.
Moderation: Enjoy treats in moderation and consider sugar-free options.
Stay Hydrated: Drink water to rinse away harmful particles and acids.
Oral Care Routine: Stick to regular brushing, flossing, and mouthwash.
Safer Alternatives: If you smoke, consider vaping or quitting altogether.
Choose Wisely: Opt for less harmful treats like dark chocolate.
Timing Matters: Consume sugary or acidic foods during meals.
Chew Sugar-Free Gum: Stimulate saliva with sugar-free gum.
Wait before brushing: Wait 30-60 minutes after eating acidic foods.
Use a Straw: Minimise contact with sugary or acidic beverages.
Limit Alcohol: Consume alcohol in moderation and stay hydrated.
Take Breaks from Snacking: Allow saliva to naturally protect your teeth.
Mindful Eating: Pay attention to what you're eating.
Stay Active: Physical activity contributes to overall health.
Dental Appointments: Keep routine dental check-ups.
Before you go…
Check out this article on how chewing gum can help with stress and anxiety!