According to Punchbowl.com, there are 14 days in December dedicated to celebrating sweets, treats, and everything sinfully scrumptious. Some of these days include National Cookie Day on December 4, National Pastry Day on December 9, National Cupcake Day on December 15, National Hard Candy Day on December 19 (today), and National Sangria Day, Egg Nog Day, Fruit Cake Day, and Chocolate Candy Day are still coming up!
As delicious as all of these “holidays” are sure to be, Polk City dentist Dr. Ryan Hussong wants to remind you of what your mother told you when you were younger: Sugar is the number one enemy of your teeth, and too much of it can be detrimental to your diet and your dental health.
Tooth-Friendly Holiday Tips
It’s extremely difficult this time of year to not indulge in tasty holiday treats, but there are a few tips to keep in mind to protect your teeth from the effects of sugar.
- Drink water. By simply rinsing your mouth with water after consuming sugary, acidic, or tooth-staining foods and drinks, you instantly remove some of the harmful bacteria before they attach themselves to your gum line and form tooth decay-causing plaque. The best way to ensure that your mouth stays moist and protected is to sip on water, rather than wine or punch, at holiday parties while snacking on treats and mingling.
- Chew sugar-free gum. Chew sugar-free gum to promote saliva production within your mouth. Your saliva not only cleanses your mouth to remove harmful bacteria, but it also helps your tooth enamel (the hard white coating on each of your teeth) restrengthen after you eat or drink so that your teeth are protected from plaque, acid, and other tooth decay-causing forces.
- Brush and floss regularly and thoroughly. Proper at-home dental hygiene is necessary all year round, but it’s even more crucial during times of high sugar consumption. To keep your mouth healthy and bacteria free this holiday season, brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss at least once a day, and use a fluoridated oral rinse and/or mouthwash. To avoid weakening your tooth enamel when brushing your teeth, wait at least an hour after eating or drinking to give your enamel time to reharden.
- Diffuse the acid and bacteria when you eat sugar. If you’re unable to rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth after eating or drinking sugar and acid-loaded foods and drinks, try to consume dairy, such as milk, cheese, or yogurt, immediately. The oil in these dairy products will coat your teeth to create a barrier between your enamel and the bacteria, while the calcium promotes strong bones (yes, your teeth are bones).
Post-Holiday Dental Care
Keep these tips in mind between Christmas and New Year’s and you’ll ring in the new year with a healthy smile. To help the process along, Dr. Hussong invites you to come in for a beginning-of-the-year dental cleaning and exam. Your dental and health benefits renew on January 1, so there’s no excuse to not receive the dental care you need and deserve in 2012.