The holiday season is officially upon us- and with it, comes a seemingly endless supply of sweet treats. At the peak of all the work parties, family gatherings, and neighbors dropping off batches of baked goods, it can feel as if we are subsisting entirely on the four main food groups of my favorite Christmas movie character, Buddy the Elf: "candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup."
While many of us might immediately think about the belt size implications of a sugar-centric holiday diet, it is often the things we aren't thinking about that could come back to 'bite us' down the road (pun intended).
That's right, we are talking about your teeth. Did you know that your oral health is intricately associated with your overall health? For a lot of people , seems hard to imagine that poor oral health could be a contributor to a vast array of major health concerns such as cardiovascular disease, dementia, various types of cancer, diabetes, pneumonia, and even pregnancy and birth complications. It may seem like a stretch, but your mouth is technically the main entryway into the body, so any 'bad bacteria' living in your mouth can end up in your bloodstream and lead to all sorts of unwanted infection or inflammation.1
Amidst all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, many people find their health routines fall by the wayside.
Given how impactful it is to care for those pearly whites, here are a few quick tips that can make a big positive impact on your health and your smile:
1. Take 5 -
Brush your teeth for two minutes, twice per day. On top of that, take a minute to floss at least once per day. These are the best 5 minutes you can spend on your oral health each day even if you decide not to heed any of the following advice.2
2. Pack a Spare -
Carry a to-go teeth cleaning kit for work and parties. Consider it your oral health extra credit, plus, a quick refresh while you are out and about will rescue you when you get spinach dip stuck in your teeth.3
3. A Spice for the Nice List -
Cinnamon gum contains something called "cinnamon aldehyde" - it is an essential oil that gives the gum it's spicy flavor, but it also can fight cavity-forming bacteria. If you don't have a spare toothbrush or floss on hand, this can serve a great alternative to pop in your mouth after a meal.3
4. Pair Your Wine with Cheese -
Adult beverages are notorious for their high acid content that can wear away at your protective tooth enamel. Besides the fact that they tend to taste good together, the alkaline in cheese can neutralize the acid in your drink!3
5. Drink Water -
When possible, opt for water over sugary sodas and juices. Rinsing with water can also help clean away freshly formed bacteria in your mouth, so keep sipping all day long!3
6. Crunch those Carrots -
Indulge in what you like at the buffet table, but grab some carrots off the veggie tray while you're at it. Carrots and other crunchy fruits and vegetables help break up plaque and tartar, plus they increase your saliva-production while you take the time to chew which, like water, helps wash away unwanted bacteria.4
7. Resist the Candy Canes -
Sticky, chewy, and gummy treats are some of the worst options for your teeth and gums- try to pass on those options especially if you don't have your to-go tooth cleaning kit on you.3
1. AbsoluteDental.com, October 11, 2021
2. MayoClinic.org, October 28, 2021
3. AbsoluteDental.com, October 12, 2021