Keeping Your Teeth and Gums Healthy for the Holidays
The Holidays: Full of good food, good fun, great people, and good food…
There is a lot to look forward to during the Holidays. Family, friends, time off, the joy of giving, World Peace (hopefully), and food. Food is the main ingredient in the recipe for a great holiday (I think). This time of year we are besieged by delicious food. From Thanksgiving dinner to New Years, turkey, ham, wine, cranberries, pumpkin pie, champagne, winter ales and oh! so many more kinds of food and drinks are set out before us to be unabashedly consumed while merrymaking with friends and family. Hopping from one house or party, to another, soaking up as much “holiday spirit” as possible, eating and drinking your way through the better part of 2 months is the norm. Trust me, I know. I do it every year. But during this series of decadent smorgasbords, there is one thing which I always remember to take good care of; my mouth. Yes, all of that edible goodness has a gateway to my overly-enthusiastic stomach, and that “gateway” needs some extra maintenance this time of year.
Holiday tooth and gum tips:
First thing I like to mention about the Holidays is: wine stains…everything. This is true of your lips, the rug, your teeth, clothes, your tongue…etc. Because of this, when I drink red wine at a family dinner or holiday party, I like to duck away quickly to rinse with a small amount of water after each glass. This helps to ensure I don’t end up with a crimson red/purple mouth after having a couple. This technique is pretty great for me as, after a couple glasses of some good red wine, my mouth starts opening a lot as I’m way more talkative.
Red is a festive color, and it’s also (referring to food and drinks) incredibly staining. Cranberries, beets, red chocolate velvet cake with red icing…these all can stain things (replace “teeth” with “things”). The same rinsing technique can be applied after eating those to help prevent heavy staining.
Here’s a tip which is very hard for me to follow: after that giant Holiday feast, groggily waddle up to the sink and brush your teeth before you sit down and fall into a food-induced coma. Leaving food on your teeth for long periods of time will contribute to both tooth decay and gum disease. I for one know I’ve had turkey stuck between my teeth, had just finished a glass of wine, had just polished off probably a pound of mashed potatoes and gravy, and then slipped into a deep, deep restful nap on the couch with holiday music in the air…then I remember waking up to the feeling of gross, fuzzy plaque on my teeth…stained red. Yeah, it wasn’t so great. With that graphically descriptive occurrence of lack of proper dental hygiene following a big holiday meal, remember to brush and floss. Heck! Even using a tooth pick or interproximal brush will help! Just try to get as much of the food and drink off your teeth as possible, by any means. This will help with the health of your teeth and gums over the holidays.
Dental Emergencies During the Holidays
NOTE: We know that around the Holiday Season, one can get extremely busy. Between cooking, shopping, and attending family functions, or being with friends, there isn’t much room for anything else. One thing to remember, however, is that if you do experience anything that is adversely affecting you leading UP TO the Holidays, make sure you get it checked out BEFORE you have no time to. There are many dental offices that close around the Holiday Season, so get it checked out before they do.
These happen…often. Biting into a turkey bone and cracking a tooth, fillings coming out from sticky foods, painful cavities, pieces of food getting stuck between tooth and gum, getting infected, and many more common dental emergencies occur over the holidays. There isn’t many things you can do to prevent these from happening, but I will say a couple things on the matter:
- Regular dental checkups, at least every 6 months, help detect dental problems before they turn into emergencies. I mean, it’s true. If you are aware of a problem before it becomes worse, at least you have the opportunity to fix it before it becomes a painful experience.
- Brushing and Flossing! Food can get stuck down under the gums, and if not removed, that area can easily become infected. Flossing and brushing help to remove food debris from between the teeth and just below the gum line.
- Avoid chewing on spots in your mouth already causing you trouble. If there is already a sore, or somewhat painful are of your gums or teeth, don’t exacerbate the situation by subjecting the area to more work. Try to steer clear of those areas.
Other emergencies like cracked teeth, incredible tooth pain etc. that occur, should be addressed as soon as possible by your dentist. Dental offices usually have an emergency line to call if the office is closed (as they usually are closed during certain times in the holiday season), dialing that number should get you in touch with a doctor or someone to assist you (we have an “in case of emergency” number at our office.)
We wish you a very happy Holiday Season. From Dupont Circle, Washington, DC (in our dental office) to everyone reading this: Happy Holidays!