It’s the season of eating! Thanksgiving meals, holiday parties, and Christmas dinner are delicious distractions, but they can really do a number on your teeth. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to keep your dental health on track throughout the holiday season.
Limit Starchy Foods
Starchy foods include potatoes, cornbread and stuffing – staples of any holiday feast. When starch breaks down in the digestive process, it creates food for the bacteria that cause cavities and tooth decay. Most people know of the negative effects of sugar on teeth, but they don’t often think about starch – both can spell trouble for your teeth if consumed in excess.
Limit Sugary Treats
Sugar is another thing to watch out for that is present in lots of holiday foods. Marshmallow-coated sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and candy canes are sweet treats, but the sugar inside them can cause cavities and tooth decay. You don’t have to abstain entirely, but try to limit your sugar intake. It also helps to consume sugary desserts right after eating a meal, while your mouth is still producing saliva to cleanse out any harmful compounds in your teeth.
Load Up On Protein and Fiber
Instead of starches and sugars, try eating more foods that are rich in protein or fiber. Turkey, ham, and nuts are all high in protein. For fiber, peas, brussel sprouts, and celery are all good choices. Protein and fiber are a filling alternative to starchy foods, and chewy foods can help scrub teeth of sugary residue.
Watch Out For Teeth-Staining Foods
Several holiday staples contain compounds that can stain your teeth. Cranberry sauce, cherry pie, and blueberry pie are tasty, but can leave an unsightly mess in your mouth. Drink plenty of water and brush your teeth after eating these foods to prevent staining of your teeth.
Drink Plenty of Water
It’s always a good idea to drink lots of water, and it’s especially important during holiday feasts. Drinking water rinses out food particles that can damage your teeth. Water also contains fluoride that can help prevent tooth decay. And if you’re drinking lots of water, you’re probably drinking less of other beverages that could actively harm your teeth, like soda or other sugary drinks.
Keep A Floss Pick Handy
Holiday meals contain lots of foods that could get stuck in your teeth. Turkey, green beans, and popcorn are all plentiful during Thanksgiving and Christmas, and also very likely to get stuck between your teeth. A package of floss picks can be a real lifesaver. Keep some in your bathroom for you and your guests to use to clean between teeth after a meal or snack.
Brush and Floss Twice A Day
Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you get to take a holiday from a good dental care routine. You should already be brushing your teeth and flossing twice a day, and this is especially important if you’re adding big holiday meals to your routine. After you eat, take a dental care break to brush and floss and clean up your teeth.
Book A Post-Holiday Teeth Cleaning
After your holiday feasting is done, it’s a great idea to schedule a professional dental cleaning. Good brushing and flossing habits can help you maintain your teeth during Thanksgiving and Christmas, but you’ll need a trained dentist to give you a more thorough cleaning. January is a great time for that cleaning, but make sure you contact your dentist well in advance – those post-holiday appointments can fill up fast!