With the holidays right around the corner, it is a great time to talk about how to keep our mouths healthy and maintain good oral health habits through what might be called the “sugar season.” Beginning with Halloween, the fall folds into winter with increasing opportunities to indulge in sweet treats. Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year’s festivities, and more are each loaded with desserts, sweets, and plenty of sugar. All of these indulgences can lead to a variety of oral health challenges. So how can we allow our children – and ourselves – a few sweet treats, while still maintaining healthy mouths? Here are some steps you can take to help your family navigate healthfully through the sugar season:
➢ Timing is Key
Time your treats to coincide with meals, or shortly after mealtime, because saliva production is increased at this time. Increased levels of saliva help cancel out the acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and rinse away food particles that get stuck in the teeth.
➢ Choose Carefully
Some sweet treats are harder on your teeth than others, so avoid hard candies and sticky candies (think taffy or gummy bears) that will get stuck in the teeth. Sweets that stay in the mouth for a long period of time subject our teeth to an increased risk for tooth decay.
➢ Maintain a Healthy Diet
Do not allow your indulgence in sweet treats to derail your healthy eating habits. In order to counteract the negative effect of increased sugar and treats over the holidays, fuel your body with whole foods and the nutrients it needs. Eat wholesome meals and balance out the sugary treats you’ve been enjoying with healthy snacks, such as carrot sticks or apple slices; this will allow you to take care of your oral health, as well as your overall health.
➢ Drink Plenty of Water
With all the treats this sugar season, make a choice to avoid sugary beverages, including soda, sports drinks and flavored waters. When teeth come in frequent contact with beverages that contain sugar, the risk of tooth decay is increased. Drink more water instead! Drinking fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay, and drinking more water in general will help keep the mouth clean and free of the sugary food particles that can become stuck in the teeth and cause decay.
➢ Don’t Forget to Brush and Floss!
It is extra important to maintain daily oral healthcare through the sugar season. Remind your family of the importance of flossing teeth each day and brushing teeth twice a day for two minutes. Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line, reaching the decay-causing bacteria that hides between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach.
This sugar season, follow these tips so that you and your family can enjoy the holidays and all the treats they offer. At La Mesa Hills Dentistry, we encourage our patients to embrace the joys of the season, but still remember their commitment to their oral health. By brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and visiting our office regularly, we can ensure your mouth stays in top health. Call 619-469-2902 or click here to book an appointment with La Mesa Hills Dentistry today!