It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . . for indulging — which means healthy dental habits often fall by the wayside during the holidays. Here are XX tips that will keep your smile healthy and happy come January 1. No need for resolutions here!
1. SWAP OUT SINFUL HOLIDAY TREATS
When the holiday season rolls around, the sugary treats start popping up everywhere: candy canes from carolers, peanut brittle from the neighbors and Uncle Joe insisting you treat yourself to another sip of sugar-laden eggnog. When you trade sugar cookies for gingerbread, you’ll save half the calories and saturated fat. Looking for some crunch? Swap caramel popcorn (which sticks to your teeth like glue) for veggies and dip. Love your starch? Opt for savory roasted sweet potatoes over candied yams. Fresh green beans are better than green bean casserole, and when you reach for apple pie rather than pecan, you’ll save hundreds of calories.
2. BRING YOUR BRUSH
When you do decide to indulge, excuse yourself to brush your teeth afterwards. It will only take a few minutes and you’ll have fresh breath, clean teeth and better resolve to avoid snacking for the entire night. And if you travel out-of-town to visit family for the holidays, don’t forget your most important packing-list items: toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. The toothbrushes you buy in hospital gift shops just don’t cut it!
3. GET THE KIDS INVOLVED
Holidays can be healthy and happy for little ones when you add a little motivation to the mix. Put your Elf on the Shelf in the bathroom holding a toothbrush and a note reminding your kids to keep their teeth in tip top shape. Or you can always threaten to tell Santa not to come to your house if teeth brushing isn’t done. This tactic is more manipulative than Elf on the Shelf, but it just might get the job done.
4. SCHEDULE A DECEMBER DENTAL APPT
If you get time off from work during the holidays, carve out a time to visit the dentist. You are more likely to go if you don’t have to use paid time off. And if you have hit the maximum out of pocket fees on your dental insurance, it’s a good idea to get one last visit in before the New Year starts and your deductible starts over.
5. TEETH ARE NOT TOOLS
The excitement of presents on Christmas morning might have you attempting to open your daughter’s Barbie car packaging with your teeth, but you must resist. Teeth are not tools and use them as such causes breakage and expensive repairs. The American Association of Endodontics also warns against chewing unpopped corn kernels (think caramel corn). If you family is doing a Turkey bowl, wear a mouthguard. You might feel dorky but it’s better to feel dorky for an hour instead of spending your holiday break in the dentist’s chair.
6. TREAT YOURSELF
Ask Santa for an electric toothbrush. Or if he doesn’t come through, buy one for yourself. They have many benefits over manual toothbrushes. According to Registered Dental Hygienist magazine, electric toothbrushes remove 10 to 49 percent more plaque than regular toothbrushes. That is a gift you can give yourself!