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  • Writer's pictureMark Roberts

Holiday Smiles

The holiday season has arrived, and along with it so have parties, galas, concerts, family dinners and many other festive gatherings and opportunities to mix and mingle during this time of year. It's important during these days leading up to the New Year that you keep your smile looking merry and bright. After all, you wouldn't want to be on Santa's naughty list due to oral health negligence or dental hygiene neglect. He is watching you know.

A season of holiday cheer doesn’t mean a holiday from dental health. In fact, the change in your schedule and diet means that it is even more essential to be vigilant in maintaining your beautiful smile, according to McGann Facial Design, a dental practice located in San Diego, California. Here are five pointers for a healthy mouth during the holidays:

1. Make Sure You are Up-to-Date on Dental Visits

Don’t put off dental visits until you return from your holiday travels. It’s always a good idea to plan ahead, get an appointment early, and take care of your teeth before the hustle and bustle of celebrating. Staying up to date will help prevent dental issues from ruining your time away from home by detecting any underlying issues that need to be treated before your leave. Holidays and vacation times are also very busy time in dental offices, so you want to make sure your appointments are scheduled and taken care of sooner rather than later. And don’t forget about flex benefits! Many flex pay health care plans require you to spend any accumulated funds before year end.

2. Make a Dental Travel Kit

Practically everything comes in a travel size, and the activity of putting together a dental travel kit will encourage great habits while you are away from home. Don’t forget to pack travel-sized mouthwash, floss, and a toothbrush for everyone in the family. And don’t forget about new convenient options like disposable toothbrushes that can be carried for “in-between” brushing on the go. Your kids will love their own dental kit too, so help them to pick out a special brush and mini-toothpaste that is specifically for their time away.

3. Protect Your Toothbrush

If you’re leaving town for the holidays, make sure that your toothbrush stays covered. Extra handling, luggage, and hotel bathrooms provide bacteria extra opportunity to find its way onto your bristles and into your mouth. Several options are available, including anti-bacterial covers. A closed cover gives a warm, damp place for bacteria to thrive, so remember to let your toothbrush dry before covering it up.

4. Watch What You Eat

We are all more likely to indulge in sugary drinks, snacks, and desserts during the holidays. Why not make a conscious decision to eat a bit healthier this year? Instead of just planning your days and family activities around food, look for opportunities for more active fun. You might also decide to pack healthy snacks so that you won’t be tempted to grab a quick treat on the road that may not be good for your teeth.

5. Stick With Your Oral Health Routine

Whatever you decide to eat, don’t forget your regular dental habits. It may be tempting to just go to bed after a long day of family fun, but forgetting your routine could mean no-so-fun dental problems later on. Make brushing and flossing an activity that your family does together. It can be a great opportunity to “de-brief” and discuss the activities of the day or plan for the next.

The holiday season is a time for joy, celebration, and spending quality moments with loved ones. However, amidst all the merriment, dental emergencies can happen when you least expect them. Whether it’s a painful toothache while savoring your favorite holiday treats or a dental mishap during a friendly game of touch football, knowing how to handle dental emergencies during the Holidays can help keep your festivities cheerful. According to Carmel Valley Family Dentistry located in California, here are some common dental emergencies to which they offer guidance on what to do if problems occur during this special time of the year:

Toothache Troubles: A sudden, intense toothache can disrupt your holiday plans. Here’s what to do:

  • Rinse your mouth gently with warm water.

  • Floss carefully to remove any trapped food or debris that might be causing the pain.

  • Avoid placing aspirin or any painkiller directly on the tooth or gum, as it can cause burns.

  • Contact your dentist for an appointment as soon as possible.

Lost Dental Filling or Crown: If you lose a dental filling or crown during a holiday feast, follow these steps:

  • Try to keep the filling or crown if it’s intact.

  • Use dental cement or over-the-counter temporary dental adhesive to reattach the crown if possible.

  • Avoid chewing on that side of your mouth to prevent further damage.

  • Schedule an appointment with your dentist to have the filling or crown properly restored.

Broken or Chipped Tooth: Accidents can happen during holiday games or while opening gifts. Here’s what to do for a broken or chipped tooth:

  • Rinse your mouth gently with warm water.

  • If there’s bleeding, apply gentle pressure with a clean cloth or gauze.

  • Save any broken tooth fragments.

  • Apply a cold compress to reduce swelling.

  • Contact your dentist immediately for emergency dental care.

Knocked-Out Tooth: A knocked-out tooth can be a dental emergency that requires prompt action:

  • Handle the tooth by the crown (top) and avoid touching the root.

  • Rinse the tooth gently with water if it’s dirty but do not scrub it.

  • Try to reinsert the tooth into its socket, holding it in place with clean gauze or cloth.

  • If reinsertion isn’t possible, keep the tooth in milk or a tooth preservation kit.

  • Contact your dentist immediately. Time is crucial for successful tooth reattachment.

Dental Abscess: A dental abscess is a painful, pus-filled infection that requires immediate attention:

  • Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater to help reduce pain and draw out pus.

  • Avoid applying heat or placing aspirin directly on the abscess.

  • Contact your dentist for an emergency appointment. Dental abscesses can lead to serious complications if left untreated.

Preventing Dental Emergencies: While dental emergencies can happen unexpectedly, some preventive measures can help reduce the risk:

  • Maintain a consistent oral hygiene routine, including brushing and flossing.

  • Be mindful of hard or sticky holiday treats that can damage teeth.

  • Wear a mouthguard during physical activities or sports.

  • Avoid using teeth as tools for opening packages or bottles.

  • Stay hydrated and limit excessive consumption of sugary or acidic holiday beverages.

Holiday dental emergencies can put a damper on your festivities, but knowing how to respond can make a significant difference in the outcome. Remember, dental professionals are often available for emergency care during the holidays, so don’t hesitate to reach out to your dentist if you encounter any dental issues.

And what about all the foods and special meals prepared for your festive occasions? During the Holidays an array of delectable dishes adorns your tables; yet these culinary delights harbor hidden threats to your dental health. Sticky, sugary indulgences like candied yams and gooey desserts cling to teeth, promoting harmful bacteria that lead to cavities. Starchy favorites such as mashed potatoes convert into sugars, while acidic treats like cranberry sauce slowly erode precious enamel.

Understanding these threats illuminates the importance of mindful consumption and dental care during this festive season according to Wicker Park Dental Group located in Chicago. Armed with knowledge about the potential dangers, you can take proactive steps to protect your smiles without sacrificing the joy of holiday feasting.

Practice Defensive Measures:

- Moderation Matters: Enjoy the holiday spread, but practice moderation, especially with sugary and acidic foods. Limiting intake reduces the exposure of your teeth to harmful elements.

- Stay Hydrated: Water is your ally. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to rinse away food particles and neutralize acids, maintaining a healthier oral environment - Chew Wisely: Eating slowly and thoroughly aids digestion and minimizes the time food particles remain in your mouth, reducing the chances of bacterial growth.

- Choose Smart Snacks: Opt for tooth-friendly snacks like cheese, nuts, and raw vegetables. These foods stimulate saliva production, which naturally cleanses the mouth.

- Post-Meal Dental Routine: Wait at least 30 minutes after eating before brushing your teeth. It allows saliva to neutralize acids and reduce the risk of enamel erosion. Afterward, brush and floss meticulously to remove food particles and plaque.

Use Tactical Dental Defense:

Implementing a few smart dental strategies can significantly mitigate the impact of holiday feasting on oral health.

– Pre-Meal Prep: Prioritize brushing and flossing before the meal. It cleans the teeth and reduces the accumulation of plaque.

– Smart Snacking: Consider chewing sugar-free gum after the meal. It stimulates saliva flow, which washes away food particles and neutralizes acids.

– Post-Feast Routine: Wait at least 30 minutes after eating before brushing. This allows saliva to neutralize acids and reduce the risk of enamel erosion.

– Routine Dental Care: Maintain regular dental check-ups and cleanings. Professional cleaning can remove any plaque buildup and detect early signs of dental issues.

December is known for the holiday season when family and friends get together to enjoy each other’s company. Many pictures are taken and special moments remembered. Nevertheless, some are reluctant to be a part of such things due to their current smile. Would you like a bright white smile for the holidays? Following the advice provided by these dental professionals can go a long way in making sure your smile is picture perfect.

Unfortunately there is still about 25% of the American population that does not have a dental plan. If you are one of those families or individuals who needs to take care of getting your smile in shape for the holidays, visit the many affordable options on this website ( Contact me soon to learn more or to get a dental program in place that has you smiling for the Holidays and beyond.

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