Protecting Your Teeth During the Holidays

The holidays at the end of the year typically provide many of the most cheerful and cherished moments of our lives. However, they also can present a challenge when it comes to keeping up with good dental hygiene.

Teeth are exposed to higher levels of sugar and acidic food and drinks during the holidays, which can lead to weakening of the enamel and tooth decay. That makes it all the more important to engage in good dental hygiene practices and prevention techniques while reveling in family, friends and food.

We at Concorde thought we’d take the opportunity as the holidays approach to provide you some helpful tips in how to keep up with good dental hygiene at a time of year when your teeth are most vulnerable and at risk for developing problems.

Swish, nosh and brush

“After consuming foods and drinks that are high in sugar, make sure to at least rinse your mouth with water,” said Alissa Sanchez, Dental Hygiene Program Director at Concorde’s campus in Kansas City, Mo. “That can help bring the pH levels, which drop due to sugar and carbohydrates, back up.

“Eating proteins along with the acid producing foods can help neutralize the oral environment as well. And, of course, tooth brushing is always a good way to neutralize the pH as well, but isn’t always available at holiday events.”

Diane Osso, Dental Hygiene Program Director at Concorde’s Aurora, Colo. campus, said sweets can make teeth more sensitive and increase the risk of cavities. Teeth that have recession – usually found more on older individuals – are more susceptible to decay and sensitivity. In addition to flossing, Osso said, using a Waterpik in between teeth daily to remove plaque can decrease the ill effects of sweets’ acid production.

“Patients can use a sensitive toothpaste, like Sensodyne, to help with teeth sensitivity,” Osso said. “A fluoride mouth rinse can help to decrease sensitivity and caries.”

Donna Sutton, DH Program Director at Concorde – Dallas, said choosing cheeses, nuts, crackers and fruits over sugary sweets is always a good alternative.

Calm down

Something else people might not think about is that stress from the holidays can cause grinding or gnashing of teeth. This can lead to loose teeth, sore jaw muscles, loss of bone support and sensitive teeth, Osso said. Anyone experiencing these types of symptoms should consider getting a professionally made night guard from their dentist to wear nightly to prevent damage.

Sutton points out that dental injuries also are possible simply scurrying around the house during the holidays.

“Inside the house with the excitement and crowds, be careful about playing and running to avoid falling on a fireplace, counter edges, floors, etc.,” she said. “Outside, sledding, ice skating, snowball fights, in addition to regular sports played during this time of year, increases injury chances also.”

One other thing to think about when considering Dental Hygiene

One other thing to avoid that one might not ordinarily think about, according to Sanchez, is opening packaging and removing tags with your teeth. Do so could risk breaking existing fillings and natural teeth, she said. The same goes for biting down on hard candy and excessively sticky food.

Dental hygienists

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