Your Oral Health & the Holidays shares how to take care of your oral health this holiday season!

The holidays are a time for joy and celebration. But in the rush to buy your gifts and make dinner plans, there may be something you’re overlooking – your oral health.

You may be busy (and feel a tad overwhelmed) and this may cause you to neglect your oral-health routine. When people are stressed, they sometimes make poor lifestyle choices – smoking, drinking too much alcohol and eating more sugary foods – which increases the risk of serious issues including oral cancer, gum disease or tooth decay.

Here are some tips to prevent your oral health from suffering this holiday season.


Stress can have quite an impact on your oral (and overall) health. Stress can lead to bruxism (teeth grinding) and may lower your immunity to infections, such as gum disease, and colds and influenza. Try to manage and reduce stress in your life by eating well, getting plenty of sleep and exercising. If you don’t have time to exercise, a 30-minute walk every day is a good start.

Schedule dental examinations.

Get a dental exam before the holidays to make sure there are no current problems with your oral health. A cavity left untreated can become painful and can dampen any holiday spirit.

Maintain your oral health routine, even during holidays.

Brush at least twice a day and floss daily, and schedule and keep regular appointments with your dentist. Having good oral health habits throughout the year can see you through occasional indulgences. If you clench or grind your teeth, ask your dentist about getting a custom-fitted nightguard to protect your teeth while you sleep.

Be prepared for dental emergencies.

From a chipped tooth to a lost filling, a dental emergency can hamper any celebration. Talk with your dentist about his or her availability after hours and during the holidays. Your dentist may be able to provide you with an alternate phone number or the location of an emergency dental clinic in your area. Have this information readily available – post it on your refrigerator or by your phone. If a dental emergency does occur, call your dentist or alternative dental contact immediately. Explain your symptoms and ask to be seen as soon as possible.

Avoid activities that could injure your teeth and gums.

Don’t chew ice, popcorn kernels and hard candy, all of which can crack a tooth; chew hard foods, such as nuts, slowly; and avoid using your teeth as scissors on tape, packaging or ribbon.

Eat a balanced diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables.

A balanced and diverse menu provides many nutrients to strengthen your teeth and gums, making them less susceptible to disease, including tooth decay. Greens and winter vegetables are great sources of vitamins A and C. Candies and other sugary treats are a big part of the holidays but enjoy them in moderation.

Chew on sugarless gum or snack on cheese.

This can stimulate saliva flow which will also help rinse your teeth of sugar and acids.

Avoid alcohol or limit the amount of alcohol you drink.

Moderation is key – when you drink, your mouth is exposed to increased levels of sugars and acids found in alcohol. This can be damaging to your teeth, especially if your alcohol consumption is heavy. Drinking water after an alcoholic drink will not only help rinse out the sugars and acids, it will help you avoid becoming dehydrated.

The holidays are a time to eat, drink and be merry and with enough preparation (and self-preservation), you can celebrate them with a smile.