Ah, the holidays are here. Gift-giving, warm hearths, eggnog, festive decorations, Christmas trees and plenty of sweets and extravagant meals cooked by friends and family in town.
While they’re a chance for us to relax and spend time with the ones we love, the holidays also present a good opportunity to review a few helpful tips to keep your teeth healthy and as sparkling white as the fresh snow outside. Follow these five tips to steer clear of emergency trips to the dentist’s office this season.
1. Say “No Thanks” to chewy treats
We’ve all seen them before – excessive candy platters passed around with cookies, eggnog and other holiday treats. Often, many of the candies that show up on these platters can damage your teeth. Sticky substances cling to tooth enamel and promote tooth decay, and thick candies like caramel and taffy can even yank out fillings. Yikes! Bottom line: eat sweets sparingly and make sure to wash them down with plenty of liquids like milk or eggnog.
2. Use a nutcracker to crack nuts, NOT your teeth.
Holiday nuts (no, we’re not talking about your out-of-state in-laws!) can really do a number on your teeth. Their hard shells and sometimes jagged surfaces can test the strength of even the strongest teeth. Tooth and gum damage can result from trying to crack the hardened outer layers with your teeth, so make sure to shell nuts before snacking on them.
3. Avoid chewing on hard candy or ice cubes.
Crunching and munching on ice and hard candy is something your kids might do, but it should be avoided to maintain healthy teeth. The holidays present opportunities for both of these items to show up at the dinner table; with them, cracked or chipped teeth is always possible. Whether you’re enjoying a sweet or finishing the ice in your holiday drink, let it dissolve naturally in your mouth. Chewing on hard objects puts too much stress on teeth.
4. Say “no” to nail biting.
Along with gift-giving and family time, the holidays can often bring stress. Some try to cope with this resident stress by biting their nails. This isn’t an effective coping mechanism, though, and is actually bad for both fingernails and teeth. Experts have linked the habit to teeth grinding, clenching, jaw problems, facial pain and sensitive teeth. If you get the urge to chew, distract yourself for a minute or two and see if the feeling goes away. If that doesn’t work, consider buying bitter-tasting polish that’s designed to dissuade you from putting your nails anywhere near your mouth.
5. Use proper tools to open packages and bottles.
We know your kids might be excited to rip into that gift from grandpa, but their teeth are not the right tools for the task. Gripping a package or stubborn bottle cap with their teeth can crack them and lead to an emergency visit to the dentist for expensive repairs. Give their mouth a great gift – help them open presents with scissors instead.
Be sure to check these tips twice to stay off your dentist’s naughty list this season!