Holiday Feasting

Preserving Dental Health During Feast Days

If you take a quick look at your calendar, one major feasting event for most American families just ended, and another is only weeks away. Ranging a little further out on the calendar, there was a large influx of sugary sweets in October, and the turn of the year is typically accompanied by an adult influx of alcohol. These events often include long travels, social gatherings, family get-togethers, and an abundant variety of foods and drinks. And let’s not forget the holiday tradition of overwhelming stress. With all this going on, will you have time for keeping your teeth clean?

Hopefully, and with planning, you do. As you feast on all the wonderful flavors and textures during this time of the year, so do the bacteria and germs in your mouth. As they feast, they produce plaque and gasses. The plaque becomes tartar, and the gas becomes bad breath. While you’re having a great time in your world of holiday cheer, the bacteria are having a great time in your mouth, chipping away at your teeth and irritating your gums. Add large amounts of stress reducing your body’s natural defenses, and germs and bacteria often manage to get a stronger hold.

The further this holiday season progresses, the easier it is to make compromises in a good routine of oral hygiene. Beware if you start thinking or saying things like these:

  • “I’ll floss tomorrow.”
  • “We’re running late – just swish around some mouthwash for now, that’s good enough.”
  • “I don’t want the taste of toothpaste to get in the way of the taste of turkey.”
  • “I’ll catch up on my teeth after everything settles down next year.”
  • “Nobody has time for that!”

Here’s the main point: you can be certain that the bacteria in your mouth never take a day off. If you want to keep these culprits from destroying your smile, you really shouldn’t take time off from defending against them. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind during the holiday season.

Drinks – you might have a few extra sugary drinks, or perhaps another beer or glass of wine. In that case, drink some extra water as well. Drinking water helps to rinse the acidic fluids from your tooth enamel and washes away sugar before bacteria can feed on it.

Goodies – Candy canes, pumpkin pie, apple cider (hard or soft), piping peppermint mocha and brownies — the list of yummy treats gets bigger each year! A residue of each sweet you eat naturally rests on your teeth for a while, where bacteria are happy to gobble it up. Again, rinse with water, or frequently use sugarless gum to encourage saliva production and natural tooth cleansing.

Don’t leave home without it – there are very few places you need to go where your toothbrush can’t go with you. Granted, the stress of the holidays might lead to leaving it behind. The family you’re staying with likely has a few extras, for just such an occasion. No doubt an inexpensive substitute is just down the street at the grocery store. While you’re at it, grab a small pack of dental floss and a travel bottle of mouthwash. It’s great practice for putting together a travel hygiene pack for your next excursion. And once you have these tools again at your fingertips, use them regularly.

Also, it’s a great idea to schedule an appointment with the Placerville Dental Group after you return home and the holiday season winds down. When it comes to your oral hygiene routine, you can think of your visit for a checkup and cleaning as “icing on the cake,” ironically. We’ll help you maintain your routine or restore it if necessary. That way you can enjoy a great smile every holiday season, no matter how much feasting is involved.


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