It’s a magical time of the year, despite all the challenges 2020 has posed. Winter is here, the holidays are upon us, and there’s so much to celebrate. However, as we move into this festive season and the New Year beyond, we should continue to pay attention to our oral health. This time of year poses some unique challenges for our teeth and our oral hygiene. By being aware of them in advance and planning for them, we can help keep our teeth and gum clean and healthy even as we enjoy the best of the holiday season!

The first order of business is to maintain a good brushing and flossing routine during the holidays, and indeed all year round. Nothing does more for your basic oral health than a regular routine of effective brushing and flossing. The holidays are a celebratory time, and celebrations can disrupt our normal schedules. While that can be refreshing and relaxing, we should stick to the parts of our routine that involve regularly cleaning our teeth.

Holiday food is perhaps the best part of this time of year. So many good things to eat, so many festive meals, all happening within a few weeks. There’s no reason not to let yourself indulge a bit in holiday food, but while you do so be mindful of some of the special risks these foods can pose. Hard foods like toffee, peanut brittle, and nuts can crack or chip teeth. Sticky or sweet foods like caramels, chocolates, and candies can cling to teeth and lead to tooth decay. Excess starches–essentially all Thanksgiving food–can introduce excess sugars into the mouth and likewise cause cavities and tooth decay. Of course we should all enjoy the various feasts that come at this time of the year, but be careful in what you eat and ensure that you rinse your mouth out with water after and don’t forget to brush and floss!

While we’re on the subject of holiday foods and holiday meals, we should recognize that while delicious many of the foods we celebrate with this time of the year aren’t the best for us. While we should all enjoy seasonal celebrations, we should also make some effort towards maintaining a healthy diet even in the midst of the seasonal cheer. The occasional salad or light meal even in the middle of the holiday season is good for you and your teeth and helps maintain healthy habits the whole year long.

Finally, for the adults among us, the holidays can be a time to indulge a bit more than usual in alcohol or tobacco products. While these can be a fun way to celebrate, they have a very real effect on your oral health. Excess alcohol and tobacco use can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, and even tooth loss. It’s best if we all limit or eliminate these things from our celebrations; your mouth, teeth, and gums will thank you in the long run!

Finally, remember that it’s not too late for one last visit to the dentist. This is a good time of year to make sure you’ve made the most of your dental insurance benefits by getting in that last round of cleaning, whitening, or whatever procedure you’ve been putting off. Most insurance resets with the new calendar year, so talk to your dentist office and insurance provider to make sure you’re not leaving money on the table.
2020 has been a challenge for us all, but despite everything there’s still a great deal to celebrate as we move into the holidays. We wish you the very best of the season and we hope to see you soon!