Six tips for a healthy holiday mouth

Little girl with a mouth (and teeth) full of chocolate

Source: Pond5

 

Whoever thinks about maintaining a healthy mouth over the holidays? I mean, aren’t you already brushing and flossing like you should? But then, there are lots of treats begging to be eaten this time of year — like chocolates and cookies and cakes and candy canes. Oh my, the damage they can do to our teeth!

Dr. Jeffrey Holmstrom, the medical director at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine, thinks the holidays are a great time to give our pearly whites a little extra attention. He has six tips to share:

1. Two and Two. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends people brush their teeth two times a day for two minutes. This simple habit can make a big difference over time.

2. Avoid hard candy and other sweets that might stay in the mouth for a long period of time. The quantity and the amount of time sugary foods and sweets stay in the mouth plays a major role in tooth decay.

3. Limit the amount of sticky and/or chewy candies. During this time of the year, it’s easy to munch on mouth-watering pieces of sticky or chewy sweets like caramel, toffee and fudge. Just remember, stickier candies take longer to get washed away by saliva and can increase the risk for tooth decay. In addition, some of the stickier candies and desserts can loosen or remove fillings, crowns and other dental work.

4. Drink water, water and more water. When teeth are in constant contact with beverages that contain sugar, there is an increased risk of tooth decay. Balance things out by drinking water in between drinking sugary beverages. If bottled water is an option, make sure to choose the fluoridated bottled water.

 5. Don’t use the teeth. Giving and receiving gifts are a common practice during the holidays. Some people get so caught up in the excitement of wrapping and opening items that they use their teeth to remove tags from new clothing and cut through string and tape. Try to avoid using teeth as a pair of scissors because this type of wear and tear can cause teeth to crack, chip and even break!

6Visit the dentist. Remember to schedule a checkup appointment with the dentist. It’s important to maintain regular and routine preventive dental care during the holidays and throughout the year because a regular dental exam can bring attention to issues that aren’t visible or painful in the early stages. A dentist can spot early warning signs in the mouth that may indicate disease elsewhere in the body.

What’s your favorite holiday treat?

Mine is chocolate fudge — made from a recipe that is loaded with sugar. I just reread tip #3!

Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. Now she writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.