Holidays are a great time for surrounding yourself with family and friends, for relaxing (okay – after all the shopping and cooking is done!), for giving, and for … indulging! That’s right, we loosen our self-imposed rules for many things around Christmas – bedtime for the kids, those one or two (or three) extra sweets, the delicious meal we eat only a couple of times a year. As you enjoy the company of others and your indulgences this season, we’d encourage you to keep in mind a few healthy smile tips so your smile stays safe and happy!

If you have any questions, feel free to call the Silver Leaf Dentistry team at 720-504-2539.

Use Your Teeth For Eating Holiday Foods – Not As Tools

What exactly do we mean by this? Well, we’ve all had that dad, uncle, or grandpa who loves to munch on nuts over a movie or as an after-dinner snack. Perhaps you do too! If those nuts have shells, it’s not wise to use your teeth to crack them open. If that’s a bad habit of yours or a loved one, just remember that cracking or breaking a tooth is more common than you may think. In fact, it’s often a dental emergency – and we don’t want to see anyone around the holidays for that reason!

So skip the shelled nuts altogether, or use a nutcracker (or rummage around and find one for Uncle Bob). The same goes for protecting your teeth by not using them to tear open wrappers or anything else.

Avoid Hard Candies, Ice, & Popcorn Kernels

Shelled nuts aren’t the only foods that can lead to damaged teeth. Hard candies like peppermints and toffee have been known to do the same. Whether you’re picking through your kid’s stocking or that candy bowl on the counter, take a second to ask yourself whether it’s worth it for your teeth to crunch down on them. And if you have candy to buy for anyone, keep that in mind as you shop. If you end up eating it anyway, it’s better to suck on it than chew it. (Just don’t forget to brush and floss to get all the sugars off before bedtime!)

Ice is another culprit for damaging teeth. Sure, it melts, but that doesn’t mean it can’t cause damage when it’s chewed in ice form. We’ve repaired teeth from this before, so please refrain from this bad habit and keep your teeth whole!
If you have a family tradition of watching movies during the holidays, you might make a big bowl of popcorn for everyone to munch on. Just make sure popcorn kernels don’t end up in your mouth while you’re distracted with Home Alone or A Christmas Story. Biting down on one could cut your movie short and cause a lot of unwanted pain until we fix the tooth.

Prevent Stains From Red Wine & Coffee

It’s common to indulge a little more with wine and coffee when you have so many events and gatherings over the holidays. These two beverages do more staining damage than almost any other foods and drinks. If you want to keep drinking them, we recommend these tips:

  • Rinse your mouth with water or swish water after each sip, or at least when you finish.
  • Brush your teeth beforehand – the staining components (and sugars, for that matter) won’t stick to plaque.
  • Brush your teeth after – but not too soon after. Your enamel will need a little time to remineralize after the acids have been sitting on them. About 30 minutes is what we recommend. And of course, you should brush your teeth at night before bedtime. That can be easy to forget after an exhausting day!
  • Consider professional whitening if your teeth have darkened from these stains over the years. For a longer-lasting way to conceal stained teeth, veneers are a great option, too.

We hope you take these healthy smile tips to heart and still enjoy the holidays with your loved ones! To visit a dentist who cares about more than just your teeth, call 720-504-2539 today or use our online form. Dr. Wallin and our team can keep your teeth healthy and bright year-round!