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How To Enjoy The Holidays Without Destroying Your Teeth

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Christmasy gingerbread cookies

Guess who loves eating holiday treats as much as you do? Family? Yup. Friends? Uh-huh. Kids? You betcha. And guess who else? The bacteria in your mouth

Sorry for taking some of the joy out of your holiday eating. But happily, a few simple steps taken during holiday meals, get-togethers, and parties can minimize damage to your teeth and gums and keep you and your loved ones’ dental work – including those expensive braces – intact. 

First, the Facts: 

Eating and drinking sugary foods and drinks for prolonged periods of time increase your chances of gum disease and tooth decay. And let’s face it, there is nothing like a holiday get-together to keep folks mindlessly indulging on whatever is in front of them for hours. 

Now, while it would be ideal for our health and teeth to avoid certain fare altogether, barring the strongest willpower imaginable, it’s probably not going to happen. Celebrations beget temptations, and holidays are a time to relax, splurge, and enjoy. 

A little preparation, however, can go a long way in managing dental health and damage control. Here are some things you can do to help you enjoy the holiday season without destroying your teeth: 

  • Eat sweets WITH (rather than after) your meal. The excess saliva your mouth naturally produces when you are eating a meal will help wash away sugar so it doesn’t linger on your teeth. 

  • Drink plenty of water. Water cleans the mouth and produces saliva that deposits essential minerals that build tooth enamel. Water also keeps gums hydrated and washes away food particles from teeth. 

  • Get plenty of rest during the holidays. A minimum of 8 hours’ sleep greatly affects your overall health, including your dental health. 

  • Cheese contains natural cavity-fighting agents and vitamins that strengthen teeth. The calcium and phosphate in cheese helps balance pH levels in the mouth, preserves tooth enamel, produces saliva, and kills bacteria that cause cavities and disease. 

  • Fruits, such as apples, strawberries and kiwis, scrub your teeth when you eat them. When the natural fibers of the fruits combine with saliva in the mouth, they help wash away food particles and stain-causing bacteria

  • Crunchy vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and cucumbers can help clean your teeth and gums by removing food particles that can build up into plaque. 

  • Chewing on fresh herbs, like parsley, cilantro, and mint helps decrease odors caused by bacteria buildup. Put them in your salad! 

It’s no surprise that sweets are not recommended when it comes to protecting your teeth and safeguarding your dental work, but some, while they may taste very nice, are particularly naughty.  

Be especially careful with: 

  • Candy canes (these tend to bathe your teeth in sugar for a long time) 

  • Peppermint bark (if your teeth are fragile, this treat can send you right to the dentist. Can’t resist? Try breaking it into small pieces and then dip the pieces into milk, coffee, or tea to soften) 

  • Crunchy Christmas cookies (see Peppermint bark, above) 

  • Caramels, taffy, peanut brittle, and pecan pie (the stickier the treat, the more damaging it is to your teeth) 

  • Popcorn (be careful of kernels) 

  • Fruitcake (there may be chewy dried fruit lurking within) 

If you forget the specific tips above just remember this: if it’s good for your body, it’s good for your mouth…and vice versa. 

Keeping your Smile Bright 

Regular dental checkups and cleanings are essential for your oral health and, along with daily at-home care, helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease—the deadly duo of dental distress. Tooth decay is the world’s most common chronic disease, while periodontitis (gum disease) is adults’ most common cause of tooth loss. 

Here’s what you can do – and not do – to keep your teeth strong and your mouth healthy. 

Take it easy with the brushing – You might figure that aggressive brushing is more likely to remove food debris and just-forming plaque than a gentler approach. But the truth is that overly aggressive brushing can damage tooth enamel, potentially resulting in tooth decay and gum disease. And enamel has no living cells, so the body cannot regenerate enamel if it is damaged. 

Don’t brush right after a meal or snack: Tooth enamel can be in a weakened state after you eat, especially if your meal includes acidic foods or drinks. You can safely rinse your mouth with water right after a meal, but wait at least 30 minutes before brushing to allow enamel time to toughen up again. 

Don’t bet on sugar-free: Sugar fuels the bacteria that are the primary cause of dental decay. But sugar-free foods and drinks with acidic additives and low pH levels can also soften tooth enamel, regardless of whether the item contains sugar. (Sugar-free gum is generally safe, but check the label for additives such as citric acid). 

Don’t rush: A quick brushing or a swish of mouthwash isn’t going to ward off dental disease. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing your teeth for two minutes two times a day, plus flossing at least once a day. Ask your dental hygienist for tips on how to brush and floss effectively. 

Don’t skip dental care: We all know postponing regular dental checkups and professional cleanings is bad. Yet we still manage to convince ourselves that we can skip a year or two without repercussions. Don’t wait until you are in pain to see your dentist. Preventing problems is easy and cost-effective. 

Dental Insurance and Dental Savings Plans  

If you have been putting off your dental checkups and cleanings due to a tight budget, you may want to learn more about dental savings plans, the affordable alternative to dental insurance.  

With a dental savings plan, you can save 10-60% on dental care for every family member. There’s a plan for every budget and dental health need – many plans even offer significant discounts on dental bridges, implants, dentures and orthodontia (braces).  

And while traditional dental insurance typically has annual spending limits and waiting periods, dental savings plans do not. You can use your plan within 72 hours of joining – and continue using it as needed all year long. If you’d like to learn more about how dental savings plans work, please reach out to us at 1-833-735-0399.  

Let’s see what you can save.

See how quickly your dental savings plan can pay for itself. We automatically add preventive care.

Who is this plan for?

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How many family members should be included?

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