How to Prevent Tooth Decay During the Holidays

Posted on December 14th, 2022 at 1:32 PM
How to Prevent Tooth Decay During the Holidays

The holiday season is full of edible temptations, which are good for the spirits — but not necessarily the teeth (or waistline)! In this month’s blog, we’ll discuss how our favorite holiday treats affect the mouth, and how we can limit the damage of tooth decay.

How do holiday treats cause tooth decay?

Holiday treats have an even greater impact on our mouths than the other foods we eat throughout the year. For starters, food that is not dissolved or digested can get wedged between the gumline and teeth, or stuck to the tooth itself, leading to plaque buildup. This applies to any meal or snack we consume. During the holidays, however, people tend to eat more, increasing the risk. We also tend to consume foods that are high in sugar content. More sugar and starches (carbohydrates) means more food particles left on the teeth. Tooth decay can be a natural result of this build-up.

Dental plaque, also called dental calculus, is harmful because this solid material becomes an oral microbiome for bacteria - the kind that produces acids that destroy tooth enamel. Plaque can even form on tooth roots. Over time, the bone breaks down, creating areas on the tooth that are permanently damaged, also known as cavities. Left untreated, cavities grow in depth and size, leading to eventual infection, and even tooth loss.

While plaque can be hard to spot inside the mouth due to its translucence, it can be felt by the tongue. People commonly regard the sensation as a “fuzzy” feeling. The material can also make itself known through irritation of the gum tissue. Gums can swell, and others that are very soft tend to bleed. Even worse, irritation can be a warning of impending gum (or periodontal) disease — where the gum line starts to strip away from the teeth. 

Holidays often come with treats, but without frequent and proper brushing, can end in unpleasant holiday surprises too!

Preventing plaque buildup during holidays

Now that you know a bit more about what to watch out for this holiday season, here are some preventative measures you can take to keep your mouth healthy from this year into the next — while still enjoying some tasty delights.

At home

Brush, floss, and rinse after meals — and especially before bed. As a minimum, do this twice a day, and at most, after every meal. 

You can maximize plaque removal and reduce fuel for enamel-eating bacteria by brushing for at least two minutes. And don’t forget to exercise the correct technique too!

At parties and gatherings

After feasting at a party or some other holiday gathering, you likely won’t be able to brush immediately — that’s okay. Drink plenty of water and if you chew gum, make sure it’s sugar-free.

Avoid hard and sticky candies. Aim not to go overboard with any kind of sugary foods or drinks. Plan ahead of time how much food you’ll consume and stick to the limit. Prioritize your absolute favorites and minimize grazing. This way you can still enjoy yourself while promoting your oral health as well.

General tips

In addition to these holiday tips, be sure to keep up with regular visits to the dentist every six months, replace your toothbrush after four months or sooner, and again, drink plenty of water every day.

Keep your smile looking sweet at Sleep Dentistry

A dental checkup or cleaning after the holiday season is always a good idea! Schedule an appointment with Sleep Dentistry and keep your smile looking merry and bright even after the lights and tinsel are put away.