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This Holiday Season Eat, Drink, and Be Good to Your Teeth

December 1, 2021 — While you know that the holiday season can be tough on your wallet and your waistline, did you also know it can pose some danger to your gumline?

Holiday events and traditions, such as family and work parties, are often a big part of the end of the year. However, according to the Massachusetts Dental Society, some aspects of this upcoming holiday season may not bring comfort and joy to your mouth and can actually cause injury to your teeth.

Enamel, which is the outer-most layer of the tooth, is the hardest substance found in the body, and it protects the inner part of your tooth from injury. When enamel is weakened, your tooth can become more susceptible to problems, including cracking and breaking. Therefore, you may want to take a “crack” at not putting certain items in your mouth. Accidentally biting down on small, hard objects—such as ice cubes, hard candy, or food decorations—can cause a cracked tooth. The biting force in the entire mouth is concentrated on the small area of the tooth that meets the hard object.

Snowmen with toothbrushCracked teeth can also occur from teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, which can often be the result of holiday stress. The force of the grinding usually occurs while sleeping, which does not make for a silent night. Physical symptoms can manifest themselves through sore facial muscles or jaw joints. Grinding can eventually lead to a cracked tooth if the force is great enough or happens over a long period of time.

While many of us enjoy consuming seasonal holiday foods and drinks, use caution when eating or drinking anything overly acidic, sugary, or sticky. Acidic foods and beverages, such as citrus fruits and juices, wine, soft drinks, and sweetened mixed drinks, can cause enamel erosion over time. It’s better to sip beverages through a straw to minimize exposure of the acids to the tooth enamel. Also, try to avoid sticky toffees and candy, as they can loosen or even remove fillings and crowns.

Giving and receiving holiday gifts can also pose problems for your oral health. Many people use their teeth to cut through strings and tape, open packages, and remove tags from new clothing. These practices can cause your teeth to chip, crack, or even break. Remember, always use a pair of scissors to open your child’s new toy or remove that tag from a new sweater—never use your teeth.

By following these simple guidelines, you can spend this holiday season giving the gift of a healthy smile to yourself and those around you.