With the holiday season in full swing, it can seem like you need the assistance of the best dentist in Portland to help protect your oral health during this time of year. From sensational seasonal treats that seem to constantly appear in the office break room to the amazing meals severed during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah, most of us are never at a loss for a reason to loosen our belts and enjoy.
Unfortunately, a prolonged diet of rich foods and sweet treats can cause serious havoc on the long-term health of our teeth and gums. So that you can enjoy the holiday season without worrying about ruining your smile, here are a few tips on how to protect your oral health now and during the rest of the year.
Say No to Snacking
Nothing says the holiday season like the sudden appearance of delectable delights at meetings, holiday parties, church gatherings, and community events. Whether a slice of pumpkin bread, a couple of chocolate chip cookies, or a few pieces of peanut brittle, it’s hard not to end up snacking more frequently when tempted by such treats. From an oral health perspective, however, snacking causes real problems.
When we eat larger meals, such as lunch and dinner, the mouth produces excess saliva to help flush away food particles that may linger on the surface of our teeth. Saliva also acts as the body’s natural defense mechanism against harmful oral bacteria that uses the sugars we consume to produce substances that erode away tooth enamel.
When we snack, the mouth does not produce extra saliva, which allows food particles to stick to the surface of our teeth. As these particles linger, they provide plaque – a sticky biofilm that causes tooth decay and cavities – with plenty of fuel to use in attacks against our tooth enamel. This makes snacking an especially destructive oral health habit, especially during the holidays when snacking on sweet treats become far more common.
Now our team at Portland Family Dentistry would never tell you can’t enjoy grandma’s famous pumpkin pie or a scoop of Salt n’ Straw a kind coworker brought in to share. Just make sure to pair these delights with a larger meal. Save these treats and enjoy them with your lunch or as part of dinner instead of as a mid afternoon or late evening snack. This way, you can still enjoy these festive treats without doing your oral health any additional harm.
Balance Out Your Plate
Large family meals and holiday parties provide ample opportunity to load our plates up with incredible foods like potatoes, stuffing, and an assortment of roasted meats. While we’ve already talked about the risks that come with eating too much sugar this time of year, keep in mind that starches are just another type of sugar.
Potatoes, breads, stuffings, casseroles, and other starchy dishes can be just as troublesome to your oral health as cookies, cakes, and pies. The holiday season can also bring us foods that seem like healthy choices – such as candied yams, cranberry sauce, and caramelized apples – but actually represent excess sugar in disguise.
Don’t go overboard when it comes to the types of foods you eat during the holidays. Moderation is key at all times of the year when it comes to our diets, which play a major role in determining our oral health. Balance out your plate with a variety of foods such as meat, vegetables, and starches and you’ll enjoy better oral and overall health all year ’round.
Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking plenty of water is a great way to reduce hunger pangs, help you feel more energetic, and to protect your oral health. A few glasses of water a day, especially after a big meal or even the occasional snack, will help to wash away harmful bacteria and food particles that linger in the mouth after eating.
While our team at Portland Family Dentistry would recommend that you brush after every meal to really help protect your oral health, you can accomplish much of the same benefits as brushing by thoroughly rinsing after eating.
Increasing your water intake makes it less likely that you’ll consume sugary sodas, ciders, and other holiday drinks that contain a lot of sugar.
Visit Portland Family Dentistry
Regular dental visits with our team at Portland Family Dentistry also play a large role in helping to protect the long-term health of your teeth and gums. Regular exams allow Dr. Agee to spot the signs of tooth decay and gum disease early on while they are still easily treatable. Frequent cleanings provide our team of dental hygienists the chance to eliminate plaque buildup from the surface of your teeth and along the gum line.
That’s it. Practice these helpful holiday tips and you won’t need to search for the best dentist in Portland to help save your oral health. You’ll be well on your way to enjoying a healthy, great-looking smile well into the new year and beyond.