8 Tips for Enjoying Teeth-Friendly Christmas Celebrations
Can you really enjoy every aspect of Christmas without harming your oral health?
For many of us, Christmas is the season cuddling up indoors with the people we love, staying snug and warm inside with hot cocoa on quiet nights… or going to parties bursting with family and friends on not-so-quiet ones. It’s the season of finding the perfect gift and waiting for that spark of joy on our loved ones’ faces when they open it.
There’s almost always way too much delicious food at these celebrations, some of which we only get around Christmas, so we tend to end up absolutely stuffing ourselves and (heroically, of course!) taking home leftovers to save the hosts from the fate of an overflowing refrigerator.
With all this indulgence, it’s important to take steps to protect your oral health. But is it possible to enjoy yourself to the fullest and still protect your oral health, or should Christmas just be a “cheat holiday”? The answer is that it’s definitely possible to indulge in everything that makes Christmas special and enjoyable, while still ensuring that your oral health stays rock-solid! To set you on the right path, here are a few tips for healthy teeth and gums over the holidays.
Plan your party with oral health in mind.
Overindulging, especially when it comes to sweets, is often bad for your oral health. Even grazing on appetizers or main dishes throughout the evening isn’t good for your teeth and gums. It provides oral bacteria with their own buffet line of food to indulge in and doesn’t give the pH of your mouth time to recover. Setting limits for yourself and the festivities before they get started is a great way to prevent overindulging.
There are a few ways you can do this, depending on your family’s preferences. The first is to set a time and duration for the festivities, ensuring they don’t go on too long. If you’re big on socialization and don’t want to set a limit on how long everyone can stay, you can also simply set a time to put away all of the food so that it’s not sitting out for everyone to continue eating. This will help you stick to your goals, but it has the added benefit of reducing the amount of cleaning up you’ll have to do when your guests leave!
Focus on spending time with family and friends.
For many people, food and drinks are a huge part of Christmas, but they’re not the main attraction—that honor belongs to the holidays’ meaning, your loved ones, and the importance of spending time together. Shifting your main focus away from food and drinks and onto these much more important aspects of Christmas can also help limit how much you’re eating during the celebrations. With a little bit of planning, you can provide ways to help your family focus on these things and enjoy the time together by planning games, gift exchanges, or other activities to do as a group.
When you’re busy with fun activities like this, you’re less likely to find yourself gravitating back towards food for yet another helping. Try to be flexible and avoid getting too upset if you don’t get to everything you planned, as having the freedom and time to have fun or simply visit is also an important part of most celebrations. Ideally, though, shifting the focus like this can do more than simply help prevent overindulging. It can also help your family and friends to have a lot more fun together, potentially even making this year’s celebration better than ever!
Pair delicious food with tooth-healthy habits.
We know there are a lot of traditional holiday staples that it would feel especially tough to give up—and since it is a special occasion, you’re allowed to indulge a little! That said, it’s still wise to go into your Christmas celebrations knowing which foods are the worst for your teeth. As the saying goes, knowledge is power! When you know which foods are worse for your teeth, you can make educated choices about the ones you should limit or avoid altogether.
You can also plan ahead a little bit, adjusting existing recipes or choosing a few new ones to ensure there are tooth-healthy options for you and your family to enjoy this Christmas. This is particularly helpful for foods that you’re likely to be snacking on more, such as appetizers and finger foods. Since how often you eat matters nearly as much as what you eat, it’s also smart to concentrate foods that aren’t as good for your teeth into a single meal, like dinner and dessert, while snacking on healthier foods like fruits, vegetables, yogurt, or cheese.
Keep up with a good oral hygiene routine.
We know how tempting it is to simply collapse into bed without brushing or flossing your teeth after a wonderfully exhausting party. No matter how exhausted you are, though, your oral hygiene routine is essential for your oral health, so it’s always important to avoid this temptation. It’s even more important over the holidays, when you’re likely eating a lot more frequently with a higher concentration of sweet foods than usual.
Plaque can combine with minerals in your saliva to begin hardening into tartar, which is full of bacteria but impossible to remove at home during your usual routine, in as little as 24 hours. Great oral hygiene is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your teeth from cavities and gum disease because it breaks down plaque, cleans bacteria from your teeth and around your gums, and prevents the buildup of tartar. So while it doesn’t take very long to brush your teeth, floss, and use mouthwash, the long-term benefits are more than worth it!
Spice up your kids’ oral hygiene routine by singing Christmas carols.
Finding new ways to encourage your kids to brush their teeth—and even make them excited to—is an ongoing mission for many parents. Christmas is an exciting time of year for everyone, especially your kids. Singing Christmas carols while your kids brush their teeth is a great way to use that to make the daily routine a little more exciting, too. It transforms oral hygiene from a chore to a fun family activity that your kids can look forward to.
You can even celebrate a job well done with a little dance. Your kids will love it and the routine will likely become a lot easier and more fun. Plus, singing songs while they brush serves a double purpose, as it can help you to time your kids and ensure that they brush their teeth for a full two minutes.
Be kind to your teeth.
Dental injuries are surprisingly common over the holiday season, in part because people tend to use them for tasks they weren’t designed to carry out. Enamel is strong and hard, but it’s also brittle, which makes teeth vulnerable to chipping, cracking, and breaking.
This is why completing tasks like crunching down on ice, opening drinks, tearing plastic packaging, and cracking nuts open with your teeth are very common ways to end up taking a trip to an emergency dental Omaha office over the holidays. Trips to the emergency dentist are never fun, but it’s an even worse way to spend your Christmas.
Thankfully, it’s generally easy to avoid dental injuries like this by simply avoiding using your teeth for tasks like this. Believe us, it’s worth the extra minute or two you might spend digging out a bottle opener or scissors! After all, it’ll save you the time, money, and pain of a dental emergency as well as maximize the time you’re able to spend with your family and friends.
Use a mouthguard during physical games.
If your family enjoys spending time before or after dinner playing physical games like football, hockey, or anything else where someone could suffer a blow to the face, don’t forget to make sure everyone who’s playing wears a mouthguard! Dental injuries are common during games like this, from relatively minor injuries like chipped teeth to severe ones like broken or knocked-out teeth.
Mouthguards might take a little getting used to, but they’re worth the effort because they protect your teeth and gums. Blows or accidents that could have resulted in a trip to the emergency dentist can be much more minor with a mouthguard. If you’re wearing a mouthguard, an injury that might have otherwise brought the evening to a sudden end can instead be brushed off, allowing you to keep playing—which is a much more entertaining and fulfilling use of your evening!
Gift new or electric toothbrushes to loved ones.
Toothbrushes might not sound like the most exciting gift, but they can be incredibly useful, especially since they need to be replaced about every six months. Plus, simply getting your kids a toothbrush that has their favorite character on it, stands up on its own, or—if you want to go all-out—plays music can be incredibly exciting. It might even have the added benefit of making them more eager than usual for their oral hygiene routine.
Getting your loved ones an electric toothbrush is a little bit more of an investment, but there are plenty of very affordable models nowadays. Plus, these toothbrushes can provide an exciting change and help people of all ages do a better job cleaning their teeth. They’re particularly useful for kids who are learning to brush their teeth on their own, often including timers or music to help them brush for a full two minutes.
A lot of electric toothbrushes also have features that are helpful for everyone, like a feature that slows or stops the motor if you press down too hard. This protects enamel by preventing overbrushing. Tools like electric toothbrushes and water flossers are also ideal ways to maintain oral hygiene for people who have joint issues that make it difficult or painful to brush and floss their teeth using manual tools. They can make a huge difference in their oral and overall health as well as their daily pain levels, which makes them a Christmas gift worth considering if you have friends or family with joint conditions!
The delicious foods and incredibly fun, exhausting parties of the Christmas season are often enough to make us hibernate for the rest of the winter, but missing out on any aspect of the festivities can be disappointing. Thankfully, there are many ways to protect your family’s oral health without missing out! In fact, having a tooth-healthy Christmas is largely about planning ahead to be smart about how you eat, sticking to your routines, and taking precautions to prevent injuries. If you have questions about your family’s oral health or what you should do if you experience a dental emergency over the holidays, feel free to schedule an appointment with your dentist in Omaha, NE at any time!