The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and indulgence, often accompanied by festive treats and gatherings. While it’s a time to enjoy the company of loved ones and share delicious meals, it’s also wise to be mindful of potential dental issues that can arise during this period.

1. Sugar Overload and Tooth Decay

One of the hallmark features of the holiday season is the abundance of sweets and sugary treats. From gingerbread cookies to candy canes, indulging in these delights can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay.

Tip: Opt for sugar-free alternatives, remind children that sweet treats are a ‘sometimes’ food, drink water after consuming sugary treats to rinse the mouth, and be diligent about brushing and flossing.

2. Alcohol Consumption and Dry Mouth

Christmas and New year celebrations often involve celebrating with various alcoholic beverages. While enjoying a drink is part of the festivities, it’s important to be aware that alcohol can contribute to dry mouth, and can also be quite acidic. Reduced saliva flow can lead to an increased risk of cavities and gum disease, as saliva helps neutralize acids and wash away bacteria. 

Tip: Stay hydrated by drinking water alongside alcoholic beverages, chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production, opt for some cheese with your wine to neutralise the acids, and maintain regular oral hygiene practices.

3. Stress-Related Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

The holiday season can bring joy, but it may also come with stress due to travel, hosting events, or meeting deadlines. Stress can manifest in various ways, including teeth grinding (bruxism) and clenching which can lead to worn-down enamel, jaw pain, and headaches. 

Tip: Practice stress management techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, heat packs and jaw massage for sore jaw muscles, and consider using a nightguard if teeth grinding occurs during sleep.

4. Cracked Teeth from Hard Foods

Festive feasts often include a variety of crunchy and hard foods, like nuts or caramelized treats and pork crackling. Biting into these items can pose a risk of cracking or chipping teeth, especially if the teeth already have large fillings, or have been worn down/eroded. 

Tip: Exercise caution when consuming hard foods, especially around teeth which are already compromised.

Practicing moderation, maintaining good oral hygiene habits, and being aware of stress-related behaviours can go a long way in preserving your dental health during this joyous season, particularly as access to your local dentist may not be as easy due to holiday closures. By incorporating these tips into your holiday celebrations, you can ensure that your smile remains bright well into the new year.