Holidays can be stressful. There are so many things competing for our attention that it’s easy to throw dental caution to the wind. The good news is that there are a few super-easy precautions you can take which will make your life easier and your teeth healthier.
1. Get a dental check up in before the crazy
If you only do one thing on this list, make time for your check-up before the silliness of the season kicks in. In the wake of Halloween, it’s likely that you and/or your children’s dental health is already compromised. If any existing problems aren’t addressed before the holidays, there is a good probability that these small issues may turn into very big and less repairable ones come the new year.
Although extreme, take the case of Helen Bolton, a mum who’s minor tooth problem was left too long and ultimately caused a near fatal heart infection. This infection necessitated 12 hours of open heart surgery… all from procrastinating on her oral issue!
You can read our other article to learn more about how your oral health can affect your heart health.
Holding off on treatment is just not worth it, especially if you’re unwell and in pain over the holidays. So just do it—make that appointment! We like to think that as far as dentists are concerned, we’re up there with the best—and we’re probably the nicest, in our opinion (and hopefully yours!)
2. Let Santa be the bearer of sweets
Because the focus on Christmas begins well before the actual day, people tend to snack constantly on sweets for the entire month if not earlier. It’s no secret that sweet snacks aren’t good for us. Blood sugar crashes also leave us with low energy which isn’t helpful at a time when we need to be running around preparing for the season.
Because we’re so busy we’re often not conscious of our snacking choices. We’ll easily default to things simply because they’re available, but hold little nutritional value. If you must snack, be kind to yourself and swap confectionery out for healthier options. To do this, make sure you’ve consciously stocked up ahead of time.
Save the refined sugar treats for Christmas day. This will give the kids more to look forward to and the scarcity will create a greater sense of appreciation.
If your kids just can’t survive without lollies, did you know that carrots and apples are a great sweet chaser? The chewing and crunching actions of these options are great at scrubbing off plaque. They also encourage saliva production, which in turn helps to neutralise all the acids left behind after the consumption of sugary snacks. As an alternative, on their own carrots and apples have their own natural sugars so they may be enough to satisfy a sweet craving. Creating a healthier habit of snacking on unprocessed foods will help more than just your teeth!
3. Stocking stuffers to promote teeth brushing
If your child is flailing in their willingness to stick with a set brushing habit, what better time to get them a special toothbrush as a stocking filler. Brushes nowadays come in all shapes and sizes, including those with popular characters on them. Electric options can also be novel. While something so small doesn’t seem like it would make a difference, it can sometimes be just what’s needed as incentive to help kids stick to a routine.
Getting kids to brush in the first place can be difficult during Christmas. There are just too many fun things that they’d rather do. The next challenge is to get them to brush for long enough. Have some seasonal fun and use Christmas carols as a way of keeping kids brushing. Have them hum their favourite carol while they brush. This should keep them there for the two minutes necessary to get the job done properly. This trick extends into the non-holiday seasons as well—simply substitute the carol with their favourite song.
4. Avoiding damaged teeth
It’s the festive season—there’s a lot of sticky tape to cut, beer to open and other things you’ll be tempted to use your choppers to help with. Just be mindful that you’ll increase your chances of breaks, chips and other possible oral injuries from this kind of usage. While healthy teeth are tough, they aren’t tools. If you want to save yourself the trouble and cost of an emergency dental visit, take the time to find the scissors or a beer opener if that’s what you need.
Emergency visits aren’t always avoidable. Breakages can also be caused by summer sporting activities or by eating hard lollies like candy canes. If you happen to find yourself with dental trauma, you may be able to save a dislodged tooth by storing it between your gum and your cheek and seeking dental help as soon as possible.
5. Hot in the city—hydration for teeth
Our Aussie summer is hot. It’s easy to get caught up in festive activities and forget about hydration. Dehydration can have a devastating effect on your smile. When our bodies are dry, so is our mouth, and when saliva is down-regulated our teeth are exposed to a more hostile environment.
Normal saliva production importantly delivers needed minerals to our tooth enamel. It also so helps wash away stagnant food particles which might otherwise create havens for bad bacteria that lead to gum disease and cavities.
A consistent flow of saliva effectively washes the tongue, gums and teeth, keeping food stains away—this results in whiter teeth and leavies your breath smelling fresher.
Unfortunately soft-drinks won’t have the same effect as water. Don’t be fooled by sports drinks either—they can cause more harm than good. Like sugary lollies, save these drinks for special occasions.
Instead, always keep full bottles of water in the fridge and encourage your kids to sip throughout the day.
A fun incentive is to use drinks dispenser. These are popular and readily available right now. Water is much less dull with slices of fresh fruit added for colour and a subtle fruity flavour. Be careful of adding too many acidic fruits such as lemon which could erode tooth enamel.
Brushing and flossing as well as making healthy food choices is still, and will always be, the best way to take care of your teeth. In addition to these, the tips above will help to support your health during the silly season.
So take the time for a bit of preparation. It will help to take the stress (and potential damage) out of a hectic end-of-year.