There’s a reason why the number one New Year’s resolution is to lose weight – it’s because we all gain ten pounds thanks to the marathon of fasting that occurs during the holiday season. What you might not realize is that, in addition to packing on the pounds during the holidays, you also stand to do some damage to your teeth if you’re not careful. With plentiful sweets and treats, not to mention high-fat, high-carb, stick-to-your-ribs (and your teeth) items on the menu, it’s all too easy to experience a build-up of plaque and tartar during the holidays that can be difficult to remove. And while you may vow to follow your regular regimen throughout the food-heavy holiday season, free-flowing booze and snooze-inducing meals could leave you loath to brush before you hit the hay. So here are just a few tips to keep your teeth healthy over the holidays.
- Brush, floss, and rinse regularly. There’s just no getting around the fact that your first line of defense against bacteria, plaque, tartar, cavities, gum disease, and tooth decay is your regular routine of brushing, flossing, and rinsing after every meal. This is a good habit that you shouldn’t allow to fall by the wayside just because of the over-indulgence that is part and parcel of the holidays. You can eat the treats you love and still maintain your oral health, but you have to stick to your regular routine for cleaning your teeth.
- Drink plenty of water. With all the heavy foods you’re bound to eat, you could use some extra hydration to ensure that your digestive system continues to function appropriately. And of course, staying hydrated during the cold, dry winter months is essential to keeping your skin and hair looking and feeling good. But drinking plenty of water can also aid the natural rinsing process started by your saliva, eliminating excess food particles and reducing harmful bacteria in the mouth.
- Keep gum and dental floss handy. You’re bound to attend holiday parties and family gatherings away from home, and even the office could be a minefield of cookies and other holiday treats. If you find yourself grazing and you don’t want to keep a bulky toothbrush and toothpaste on hand, at least keep a few sticks of gum and some disposable floss toothpicks in your pocket or purse for a quick cleaning after you eat. As a bonus, you’ll ensure that none of the holiday photos feature a piece of food stuck in your smile.
- Limit staining agents. Coffee, tea, wine, and other prevalent holiday beverages can leave your teeth looking several shades darker by the time the season has passed. But you can address this easily enough by limiting the number of drinks (and food, for that matter) that you consume containing known staining agents.
- See your dentist after the holidays. Whether the stress of the holidays has left you in need of a night guard for grinding teeth or you’re dealing with stains, plaque, or even pain following your record feasting this year, it’s not a bad idea to schedule an appointment with your dentist early in the new year to address any problems that have developed and get your oral health back on track.