Protecting your Oral Health During the Holidays

Candy cane infused sugar cookies. Hot chocolate laden with mini marshmallows. Tiny gingerbread men coated in sweet royal icing. Mulled wines and Christmas cocktails. Did we mention wine? The holidays are notorious for the amazingly decadent desserts and spirits that accompany the most special time of year. So, we indulge – and while most of us wait until after the new year to worry about the damage done, there’s one aspect of our health that shouldn’t wait until the clock strikes 12: our teeth.

Yup, your sweet tooth is probably in heaven this time of the year, but in reality the holiday time brings about some of the worst possible scenarios within your mouth, from tooth decay, cavities, bad breath, and discoloring of the teeth to missed dental appointments — it’s a health concern not many consider when caroling their way from party to party all month long. But the truth is, our teeth take the brunt of our food and drink choices during the holidays and throughout the winter months, and while we may think that our morning brush routine is enough to wash away our sins — say a venti peppermint mocha with extra whip — your dentist will probably tell you otherwise.

Cavities are formed when bacteria feeds on sugar and bits of food left on your teeth from eating. While saliva will help to wash it away, the saliva is less helpful when you have fewer breaks between meals and snacks, especially during the holiday season when indulging on homemade goodies is an absolute must. Did you also know that the change in weather can have a big impact on your teeth? Hot and cold temperatures can cause teeth to expand and retract, which can lead to small hairline fractures. And, teeth chattering while playing in the snow might not only be a signal that you should seek warmth, but also guard your teeth — sporting activities, including skiing or even sledding, account for 10-39% of all dental injuries in children, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. 

Finding Your New Routine


During the holiday season, our usual routines become a blur as work and schools close, families travel, vacations are had, and the hustle and bustle of the season is in full force. We’re up early shopping for deals and staying up late enjoying the holiday festivities. It’s easy to forgo our usual and get lost in all of the fun, and while this doesn’t mean we’re all walking around with a dirty mouth and unbrushed teeth, it does mean that the holidays are usually when we put off our routine 6 month dental cleaning or forget to make certain that our children have adequately brushed both the front and back of their teeth, morning and night. 

Product Recommendation

If you’re like most of us this holiday season, spending what seems to be an immense amount of time in the grocery store check out line, our usual toiletry pick up at the grocery store is sometimes forgotten amidst all of the cranberries, hams, and sweet potatoes. If keeping up with your routine is something that is hard to do during the holiday season, then you may be interested in a service that keeps last minute trips to the drug store at bay and your medicine cabinet stocked with the very best in oral care. Tulip‘s motto, “Less Routine. More Life.” is exactly what we live during the holidays, and exactly what we need from a company designed to help us live easier and healthier. Tulip is a subscription service that provides specialized toothpaste, tooth brushes, and floss delivered to your door in a sweet little box every two months. Their toothbrush features 2x the bristles as the average toothbrush and also includes an activated charcoal strip. For those who haven’t jumped on the trend, activated charcoal is the next best thing in teeth whitening and brightening, as well as plaque removal. Tulip’s premiere toothpaste includes an FDA approved fluoride formula and comes in two amazingly delicious flavors — mint or coconut mint. And lastly, don’t forget to floss! Tulip’s mint floss is a must in keeping away unwanted tartar build-up. For just $12 every two months, you really can’t beat a service that promises to keep your health — and busy lifestyle — a priority. 

Watch the Cough Drops


Cold and flu season unfortunately also happens to fall during the holidays. And for this reason, cough drop sales sore during this time of year. While they are our go-to when we can’t ease a sore throat or calm an all-night coughing fit, they can wreak havoc on our teeth. And though found in the medicine aisle, cough drops are simply a medicated piece of candy and loaded with sticky sugar. Keeping one in your mouth may make you feel better, but the slow melting lozenges are actually doing quite a bit of damage to your teeth. Be sure to brush your teeth often when using cough drops, especially at night if you are using them right before bed, which is prime time for the bacteria in your mouth to take over your enamel. 

Stay hydrated


Hot cocoa, tea, coffee, a deliciously bold Merlot, and just about every one of Starbuck’s amazingly divine holiday concoctions make up the majority of our liquid intake throughout the winter months — and rightfully so! Rather than a glass of ice cold water, our bodies crave warmth and substance. And while we may not be sweating it out in the sun, staying hydrated during the winter is just as important as it is in the summer. If dry skin doesn’t encourage you to drink more water, maybe your oral health will. Drinking water not only washes away food and bacteria, but tap water also includes much needed fluoride, keeping your teeth strong and healthy. And at a time when the air is incredibly dry, your gums and tissue also tend to lose moisture, making the suggested 6-8 glasses of water a day more than just a suggestion for the sake of your mouth. Lastly, staying hydrated is also a must when battling a cold and helps aid your immune system in the fight — rather than relying on sugary cough drops to do the job. 

Change out your toothbrush often


If Tulip’s subscription service has one thing right, it’s the idea that a new toothbrush is a must every couple of months. While it’s advised to start a new toothbrush every three months as normal wear and tear makes a toothbrush less effective, during the holidays and winter months, it’s even more important to have a fresh toothbrush lying around. A breeding ground for germs, your toothbrush can harbor cold and flu germs. Gross. If you’re battling something funky, be sure to change up your toothbrush to save your mouth, body, and sanity.

Oral Hygiene Basics:

  • Brush twice a day
  • Floss once a day
  • Use ADA approved dental products that include fluoride
  • Brush for approximately two minutes
For another way to take care of your health during the holidays, check out Balancing a Healthy Christmas: One Mom’s Advice on Managing Diabetes During the Holidays.

Photo credits: Stephanie

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Stephanie

Stephanie is a military wife, currently residing in North Carolina, and mama of two exceptionally curious little ones; a rugged pint-size princess and a toddling Evel Knievel-in-training. When she isn't exploring the family's newest dwellings, running trails, farmers' markets, and playgrounds, she spends her down time working from home, feverishly correcting "textspeak" in her college students' essays as an adjunct English instructor for a local community college. Her passion for writing, photography, fitness, and health can be found on her personal blog, https://livingourhighlife.wordpress.com.

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