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Holiday Oral Care: Navigating Oral Health During the Holidays

The holiday season, with its festive atmosphere and indulgent treats, can be a challenging time for maintaining good oral health. After all, when you start the day with Bloody Mary’s and sweet cookies, eat lunch two times, and have a huge dinner later, all with sweet treats along the way and a nightcap, it can spell trouble for your oral health. We often do these without increasing how often we brush, floss, or use mouth rinse. But don’t do that this holiday season! A little knowledge can go a long way to preventing this behavior.

Here are some of the worst dental habits that can be exacerbated during the holidays and tips on how to mitigate their impact:

Excessive Consumption of Sugary Treats

Best Coney Island Dentist
Best Coney Island Dentist

Bowls of Hershey’s kisses out on the living room table? Sweet libations flowing freely throughout the day and night? Cookies for Santa Claus? The holiday diet is one of the most sugar and sweet-filled “cuisines” of the year (if sweets can even be called cuisine).

  • Habit: Indulging in sweets like candy canes, cookies, and other sugary treats.
  • Impact: Sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth, leading to tooth decay and cavities.
  • Mitigation: Limit intake of sugary treats and brush your teeth after consuming them.

Neglecting Oral Hygiene

Are you eating holiday cookies throughout the day? Hot cocoa and honey-covered sweet bread? The holiday diet is full of sweets, likely more than usual. But are you increasing your brushing and oral care to match your increase in sugar intake?

  • Habit: Skipping brushing, or flossing due to busy schedules or late-night parties.
  • Impact: Poor oral hygiene can lead to plaque buildup, gum disease, and bad breath.
  • Mitigation: Stick to a twice-daily brushing routine and don’t skip flossing.

Using Teeth as Tools

No scissors within arm’s length? Can’t pull the bag of candy open? If you’re using your teeth to chomp down on packaging you don’t feel like getting scissors for, it can be another terrible habit for your oral health. Boxes and plastic bags shouldn’t be opened with your teeth.

  • Habit: Using teeth to open packages or crack nuts.
  • Impact:This can cause chipping or breaking of teeth.
  • Mitigation:Use appropriate tools like scissors or nutcrackers instead.

Overindulging in Alcoholic Beverages

Libations and free-flowing alcohol are a common scene during the holidays. However, overindulging has several health risks and can adversely affect the health of your teeth, gums, and tongue. Be sure you’re not drinking too much alcohol.

  • Habit: Excessive consumption of alcoholic drinks, which are often acidic and sugary.
  • Impact: Alcohol can dry out your mouth, reducing saliva flow that helps protect teeth.
  • Mitigation: Drink water alongside alcoholic beverages and rinse your mouth with water after drinking.

Chewing on Hard Candies or Ice

Finishing off your icy drink by chewing the ice cubes may be satisfying, but it’s terrible for your teeth. It is similar to grinding your teeth but with a more significant impact, which can lead to more severe teeth and gum trauma.

  • Habit: Chewing on hard substances can be tempting, especially with seasonal candies.
  • Impact: This can lead to tooth fractures or damage to dental work.
  • Mitigation: Avoid chewing on hard substances and opt for softer alternatives.

Stress-Related Habits

The holidays aren’t always a season full of cheer. There is often anxiety, panic, and stress that relates to the holiday rush, shopping, and overall excitement of the season. Some people have other reasons for being stressed during the holidays, like losing a significant other or having a breakup. This can lead to grinding and clenching your teeth.

  • Habit: Clenching or grinding teeth due to holiday stress.
  • Impact: Can cause tooth wear, sensitivity, and jaw pain.
  • Mitigation: Practice stress-reduction techniques and consider a mouthguard if grinding is an issue.

Ignoring Dental Problems

The holidays are often hectic, and sometimes people forget important dental or medical necessities until the season ends. The problem with this is that things can progressively worsen with oral health in a short period. So, if possible, do not skip the dentist due to the holidays.

  • Habit: Postponing dental visits due to a busy holiday schedule.
  • Impact: Neglecting dental issues can lead to more severe problems later.
  • Mitigation: Keep up with regular dental checkups and address any issues promptly.

Holiday Dental Care

The holiday season doesn’t have to take a toll on your oral health. By being aware of these harmful habits and taking proactive steps to mitigate them, you can enjoy the festivities while keeping your smile healthy. Remember, moderation is key, and maintaining good oral hygiene practices is essential, regardless of the season.

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