During the holiday season, most people focus on cooking, spending time with family, shopping, and other related activities. However, there's one thing you should be paying a bit more attention to during the holidays – your dental health. A lot of the habits you subconsciously adopt during this time of year would make your dentist cringe. Here's a look at those habits and how to avoid them.
Opening packages with your teeth.
What do you do when a plastic toy package proves too tough for your fingers, or when you just can't loosen the ribbon on a gift? Most people take their teeth to the task. This is a big mistake that could land you in the emergency dentist's chair with a chipped tooth or broken filling. To ensure you get to spend the holidays with your family rather than your dentist, don't open packages with your teeth. Keep a little pair of scissors in your purse or bag so you can open packaging on-the-go without worry. You're your friends and family to stop you if they spot you trying to open or tear something with your teeth, too.
Snacking on nuts, hard candies, and other tooth-damaging treats.
Many holiday treats are about as bad for your teeth as they could be. Shelled nuts could easily chip a tooth. Hard candies like candy canes can too, if you chomp on them. Candies of all types are made mostly from sugar, which can feed oral bacteria and cause tooth decay. However, some of the worse candy culprits are sticky candies like taffy and caramels, which adhere to your teeth for hours after you eat them.
Think carefully before you select your holiday snacks. Try to steer towards fruits, veggies, and cooked appetizers rather than the candy dish and dessert tray. When you do indulge in candy, brush your teeth soon afterwards.
Dealing with stress by grinding your teeth or chewing your nails.
As enjoyable as gifts, family gatherings, and shopping may be, they can also be a source of stress. If you deal with this stress by grinding or clenching your teeth, you could be damaging your filings, wearing down tooth enamel, and putting yourself at risk for TMJ pain. If you deal with stress through nail biting, you'd better watch out for chipped teeth!
Find a safe and effective way of dealing with stress, and maintain it throughout the holiday season so you don't revert to nail biting or tooth grinding. Some good choices include yoga, taking long showers, exercising, and meditation. Additional reading on dentists can be found here.