You might have some trouble staying on top of your oral health when it comes to the winter holidays with all of the yummy food, family gatherings, and time crunches on your schedule.
Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with a 2022 winter holiday dental guide.
Travel With Your Tools
Traveling during the winter holidays makes it difficult to know how and what to pack for your oral hygiene routine. There are plenty of smaller sizes for toothpaste, mouthwash, and toothbrushes. When traveling by plane, don’t forget to keep your travel items to under 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters, per TSA regulations. Toothpaste follows the same rules as liquids on planes. If you don’t want to use disposable cups, make sure every family member has a cup to use for water.
For toothbrushes, consider a cover for the bristles to keep them clean during transport. If you have a special travel bag for toiletries, pack everything into that same bag so you know where your oral care items are located. Separate various oral care tools into plastic zipper bags for easy identification.
Choose the Right Oral Care Tools
For toothpaste, the American Dental Association recommends fluoride toothpaste for all ages. Kids ages 2 to 6 should use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. There are plenty of flavors available, from bubble gum and strawberry to watermelon and grape.
Dental floss should always be a part of oral hygiene for you and your family. It doesn’t take very long to add flossing to a routine. Brushing your teeth takes just two minutes. Flossing takes just about as long. In less than five minutes, you complete your oral hygiene routine. If you don’t want to use dental floss, floss picks offer an alternative.
Mouthwash also comes in fluoride varieties, and there are gentle mouthwashes for kids to use. Make sure to follow the directions on the bottle completely, like rinsing for 30 seconds before spitting out. 30 seconds is plenty of time for the mouthwash to reach all parts of the mouth.
Electric toothbrushes are extremely convenient. They do cost more than manual toothbrushes. However, they’re perfect for people who have trouble gripping items. They also leave your teeth feeling clean and fresh. Several varieties have different levels of technology. Some have UV sterilizers. Others have a built-in timer that tells you when to change the part of your teeth you’re cleaning.
Interdental toothbrushes work by using a small brush that gets in between teeth as an alternative to flossing. Think of interdental brushes as a pencil with a very soft, narrow tip for getting the spaces in between teeth.
Stay hydrated during the holidays whenever possible. A good rule of thumb is to take a sip of water every 15 minutes. Mayo Clinic suggests 15.5 cups of water a day for men and 11.5 cups of water a day for women. For convenient half-liter water bottles, that’s about seven for men and 5.5 for women. Hydration is essential for traveling by car because it can help drivers stay alert and maintain concentration on the road.
Rather than consuming hefty portions of eggnog, fruit punch and soda, and some adult beverages, try to drink water as your main beverage throughout the winter holidays.
Use Extra Caution If You’re Sick
Having a cold during the winter holidays sucks. Take extra caution when going through your oral hygiene routine. Mouth ulcers are sores that can form from cuts and blisters on your lips, cheeks, and gums. If you have any of these issues, use a soft-bristled brush while brushing slowly to avoid damaging your gums.
Choose foods high in vitamins A, C, and E to help you heal faster. You can find warm foods that have these nutrients in them, like roasted pumpkin or roasted almonds. Think about a strawberry parfait to get vitamin C from the berries and then calcium from the yogurt.
If you develop a cold sore or mouth ulcer that lasts more than a week, consider seeing your dentist for a check-up. Your dentist can prescribe antibiotics or other medications to get the sores to heal faster.
Be Mindful of Starches
Cakes, pies, and holiday breads all have starches in them. Starches break down into sugars and carbohydrates once they get inside of you. These carbs stick to your teeth and can harbor bacterial growth just like sugary drinks can. During long stretches of the day, you might not think about brushing your teeth frequently when you’re moving from place to place or event to event with your family.
Keep Stress at Bay
Winter holidays bring joy, happiness, and family time to your life. These hectic times can also lead to stress.
The reason you need to keep stress at bay comes from your dietary choices. Stress can lead to unhealthy meals, such as fast food, comfort food filled with sugar, or frequent snacking. All these choices can add sugar to your mouth, and more sugar in your mouth leads to more bacteria forming a film on your teeth. This bacteria may form acids that gradually wear down the tough enamel and decay your teeth.
Avoid Sugary Drinks Whenever Possible
Your aunt’s yummy fruit punch mixed with lemon-lime soda, that delectable glass of hot cocoa with a melted chocolate stick and marshmallows, apple cider, and of course, the eggnog, all have sugar in them as a significant ingredient.
We know that winter holiday time means seasonal delights you probably won’t eat or drink again for another year. However, if you’re concerned about your oral hygiene, we highly recommend avoiding sugary drinks whenever possible.
Know When to Brush & Floss
We recommend brushing and flossing twice daily, once in the morning and once before bed, to remove as much plaque and sugary film from your teeth as possible. Brushing and flossing prevent plaque build-up before it hardens into tartar or plaque, which can only be removed by a dental scraper during a professional cleaning at the dentist. Fluoride toothpaste works best to restore and rejuvenate the outer layer of enamel before it leads to tooth decay.
Consider rinsing with mouthwash after brushing and flossing. Again, go for a fluoride mouthwash. An alkaline mouthwash can help neutralize the acidity in your mouth, which kills bacteria on your teeth. Bacteria need an acidic environment to thrive (and your saliva fosters this acidic environment). Mouthwash, when used properly, can kill germs by creating a hostile environment for germs long enough to destroy them.
Who can help me with dental care in Springfield, Missouri?
The dentists and dental care staff at Parkcrest Dental Group can help you and your family with any dental care needs you or your family may have, particularly as the holidays approach. Winter breaks offer the perfect time to bring your family in for a checkup!Contact us or call (417) 887-1220, and we’ll take care of you.