Cupid vs Your Cuspids: Surviving Valentine’s Day

Family dentist in Polk City IAWith a few weeks still left in January, Polk City families have already started stocking up on Valentine’s Day candy, staking out dinner reservations, and making arrangements with local florists. As the traditional holiday palette of pink, white, and red dominates our field of vision, it’s easy to overlook the significance of these very colors as they relate to our oral health. Dr. Ryan Hussong, a family dentist in Polk City, IA, discusses the importance of white teeth and pink gums, and offers advice on treating red, bleeding gums.

Keeping Your Teeth White and Bright

Given the popularity of boxed chocolates, candy hearts, and red wine during the month of February, maintaining healthy teeth proves challenging. Infrequent indulgences pose little threat, but only if you take care to practice responsible oral hygiene. Remember:

  • Choose chocolates over sticky, chewy candies, such as caramels. Gooey treats cling to your teeth and gums, coating them with sugar for up to an hour.
  • Always brush your teeth after enjoying cakes and candies. If you cannot brush, rinse your mouth with water. Brush as soon as you are able.
  • White wine, a romantic favorite, is highly acidic and can damage your tooth enamel, and red wine can stain your teeth. Always rinse with water after imbibing, but wait at least half an hour to brush your teeth. Brushing could damage the already weakened enamel.

Protecting Healthy, Pink Gums

Healthy gums are light pink to brown in color, firm to the touch, and do not bleed during brushing or flossing.

  • If your romantic Valentine’s Day dinner includes starchy foods such as bread or pasta, floss immediately after eating. When you chew these foods, they become gummy and get stuck between teeth. Bacteria in your mouth immediately break down starches into sugar, increasing your risk of forming cavities.
  • If food becomes lodged between your teeth and gums, do not attempt to remove it with a toothpick. Sharp implements can puncture gums or damage tooth enamel, leaving you vulnerable to infections and irritation. Rinse with warm water, then use dental floss. Otherwise, it may be time to seek help from the team at Cornerstone Dental.

Seeing Red When You Brush? Take the Next Step

A single indulgent Valentine’s Day will not likely result in irreparable damage to your teeth and gums, but year-round diligence is always best. If brushing your teeth causes your gums to bleed, you may have gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease marked by redness and inflammation. Some, but not all, causes of gum disease are preventable, such as poor oral hygiene, eating a non-nutritious diet, excessive alcohol consumption, or tobacco use. Certain medical conditions, prescription medications, and hereditary factors also increase risk of gum disease. Dr. Hussong provides preventive and general dentistry for your entire family, with services ranging from periodontal therapy to cosmetic dentistry, including teeth whitening, clear braces, and veneers.

Love your teeth: Schedule an appointment with Dr. Ryan Hussong by calling our Polk City office at 515-984-6001. We proudly serve patients residing in and around Ankeny, Grimes, Ames, Johnston, Urbandale, and Des Moines.