Holiday wisdom for your teeth

The holidays are all about giving, but you may be getting more than you desire in terms of dental problems this holiday season. No one would argue that the holiday season is pretty much one big sugar fest from Halloween to New Year’s, but sugar isn’t the only culprit looking to steer you towards the dentist on January 2. If you want your smile to stay healthy, then look out for these holiday dangers.

First things first, there is a lot of sugar being given—and eaten—from Halloween at the end of October, to the pies of Thanksgiving, to the holiday cookies and straight through the New Year. All that sugar does a real number on your teeth, so step up your oral care game as if Santa were watching.

Next, the holiday season is a time to make merry, and we certainly do. We make merry with the punch at the office party, the spiced cider at the Christmas Eve bash and the eggnog whenever we are feeling festive. Beverages high in sugar or citric acids are a major source of tooth enamel erosion, with soft drinks being a main culprit. The increased intake of fruit juices, sodas, coffees and other enamel-eroding beverages just can’t be denied, what with all of the parties and festivities this time of year. The American Dental Association recommends limiting beverages containing fruit juices, sodas or other sources of sugar as much as possible this holiday season. Of course, maintain your daily oral care routine of brushing twice a day and flossing, and see your dentist regularly.

Lastly, Santa might not be your only nightly visitor this holiday season. Dentists know that it’s a prime time for teeth grinding, due to the higher levels of stress and excitement created by the holidays. Called bruxism, teeth grinding can be a daytime or nighttime occurrence, though it mostly occurs during sleep; many people aren’t even aware they are doing it. Generally, teeth grinding is a response to stress or an underlying condition, but sometimes dentists are at a loss to pinpoint its causes.

Bruxism wears down the enamel of the teeth, leaving them open to sensitivity and damage, but a whole host of symptoms can accompany the behavior as well. Since the jaw is continually clenched, teeth grinding can cause headaches and pain that can really put a damper on your holiday spirit. Furthermore, teeth grinding could be disrupting your sleep, leading to tiredness and irritability throughout the day; it’s a bad combination if you’re going for jolly. The American Dental Association maintains that teeth grinding can cause serious damage to your teeth and jaw, but your dentist can prescribe a treatment such as a mouth guard or even look into underlying sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, that may be linked to your teeth grinding.

Try to limit your holiday stress as much as possible, and make sure to see your dentist immediately if you suspect teeth grinding is affecting your health and well-being over the holiday season. Make sure to maintain your oral care routine, especially when the merry making kicks into high gear!




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