December is full of presents, family and yummy treats, but it can also be a month where our oral health suffers. Sugary pumpkin pie, candy overload and bad brushing and flossing practices leave your teeth at risk for tooth decay and disease over the holidays, which can cause problems in the future. By committing to a good oral hygiene routine, limiting sugar consumption and meeting with the dentist, you can enjoy the holidays without sacrificing your oral health. Find out which items are decay-causing culprits and how you can counteract decay with these tips!
The holiday season brings with it treats and desserts that are unique to that time of year, but many of these delicacies are full of decay-causing sugar that eats away at tooth enamel and creates tooth decay. Even if you only eat these sweet treats a few times a year, that’s enough to hurt your oral health and cause expensive problems. Our mouths are full of bacteria that grow from the sugar found in the food we eat. When we introduce more sugar to said bacteria, they can grow faster and stronger, creating plaque that sits on teeth until decay forms. Acid production also increases during this time, and this is where your tooth enamel becomes damaged as the acid eats away at the protective outer layer of your teeth. As the acid eats away at your tooth enamel, holes begin to form. These holes are commonly known as cavities, and they often appear in children’s mouths but can develop in adults if proper oral hygiene techniques aren’t followed. Cavities can extend deep within the tooth, passing many layers until it becomes too painful to bear. When left unchecked, serious cavities can even cause tooth loss. Sugar only expedites this process and can damage your teeth beyond repair. For this reason, it’s vitally important to be careful about how much sugar you consume, especially during the holidays when sugar-filled treats are so prominent.
Even though sugar is a common denominator when it comes to tooth decay, it’s still okay to eat it if done in small quantities. By adhering to some of the following tips, you’ll be able to protect your teeth during the holidays without having to sacrifice all of the sugary treats that you love. One of the best rules of thumb to follow when it comes to choosing holiday food is to be picky if it’s sticky. Sticky foods like dried fruit stay on the teeth longer and contain decay-causing sugar that causes cavities when left in the mouth for too long. If you eat something sticky, try to brush your teeth as soon as you can afterwards so that the sugar-filled sticky material doesn’t stay on your teeth longer than it has to. Additionally, watch out for the hard candies that seem to find their way into every holiday celebration. Not only is hard candy full of sugar, but they’re known for chipping or breaking teeth when indulging on them. You don’t want to have to pay for a broken tooth during the holidays, so skip the hard candies (and nuts!) if you can. Starchy foods like cakes, bread and chips easily get stuck between teeth and allow plaque to build up on the teeth, leading to eventual decay if left unchecked. Be careful how often you eat these options and make sure to floss to remove any particles that may be stuck between your teeth. Lastly, it’s the holidays, so enjoy! Just be careful about which snacks and treats you eat so that you can have the best chance at avoiding tooth decay. Choose lean meats like skinless chicken or lean beef for their protein, and opt for whole grains and fat-free items to maintain your physical health. If you do snack, choose a healthier option like vegetables or cheese to keep your teeth healthy and happy during the holidays.
After a sugar-filled holiday season, your teeth will be in dire need for some additional tender loving care. One of the best ways to help your teeth recover from the sugar overload is with a dental checkup, where your dentist can review your teeth, gums and oral tissues. A dental checkup typically involves a deep cleaning and examination to ensure that your oral health is where it should be and to check for signs of cavities, gum disease and tooth decay. Digital X-rays are often taken to examine your teeth beneath the gum surface and ensure that your teeth are in proper alignment. These X-rays also identify problems with tooth roots, jaw bones and the gum line that aren’t visible to the naked eye. After a thorough cleaning of your teeth, gums and mouth, the dentist will examine the rest of your mouth with a metal probe and mirror to check the depth of your gingival pockets and for signs of redness/inflammation. Your cheeks, tongue and lips are also examined for oral cancer and your teeth will be checked to ensure that they are fitting together properly. All of this is completed during the dental checkup, and each step is vital to guarantee that your oral health is at its best.
At Stonebrook Family Dental, we care about your dental health during the holidays and throughout the year. Whether you need tips about what sugar-filled foods to avoid or if you’re due for a dental checkup, we can help! Call our office at (303) 872-7907 to schedule an examination and give your teeth the gift of health that they deserve!