Once the Halloween candy appears on grocery store shelves and in the dish on your co-worker’s desk, you know that sweet tooth season has arrived. From the candy cavalcade of October to the hors d’oeuvres, dinners parties, cocktail hours and gift exchanges of November and December, the holiday season is overflowing with tasty treats — not to mention plenty of coffee, red wine and between-party snacks.
All of the sugars, starches and acids from these festive foods and drinks can be damaging to your sparkling smile. But with everything we’ve experienced this year, the Soul Dental team isn’t about to tell you to forego all your faves. Please, treat yourself! Then remember to treat your teeth to a little extra care with these tips.
Whether it’s your Aunt Cathy’s pumpkin pie or your morning pumpkin spice latte, enjoying sweet and starchy foods — especially several over the course of the day — can be taxing for your teeth. That’s because these carbohydrates stick to your teeth and release small amounts of acid as they break down, causing damage to tooth enamel and over time leading to cavities.
Here are some ways to combat the effect of holiday snacking and rebalance your mouth’s pH when you’re away from home:
- Brush or floss to remove excess food particles. Even brushing without toothpaste helps! Pack a travel toothbrush for a quick refresh between parties — check out the Travel Jet Set from Cocofloss, which also includes two spools of their signature plaque-scrubbing dental floss.
- Time it right. Wait at least 30 minutes after eating before brushing. Brushing too soon could just spread the sugars and acids around your mouth instead of getting rid of them.
- Chew on this. Chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after meals is shown to prevent cavities. Try the all-natural sugar-free peppermint gum from Brooklyn-based Simply Gum, or check out Quip’s sleek Pez-like gum dispenser.
- Load your plate with tooth-friendly foods on your last trip to the buffet. Crunchy-textured foods like raw fruits and veggies can give your teeth an extra brush while you chew. And some studies show that consuming dairy after eating can make your mouth less acidic. Crudite platter and cheese plate, here we come!
Unless it’s part of your Halloween costume, purple teeth can be a total vibe-killer when you’re out celebrating. Basic oral care like brushing before your drink and rinsing with water can help, as can these tricks for reducing stains from red wine and other beverages:
- Bring along Moon Oral Care’s stain prevention teeth wipes. These individually wrapped textured wipes are naturally flavored with peppermint and are perfect for wiping away stains from that evening glass of wine or your morning tea or coffee. (P.S.: These are a great solution if you wear aligners, too!)
- Apply WineBlock stain prevention balm to your lips and teeth before you sip. All-natural acid-blocking ingredients keep stains off your teeth while coconut oil gently moisturizes your lips.
- Drinking through a straw can keep staining liquids from coming into contact with your teeth in the first place. Pack a reusable straw for sustainable stain-prevention — like the FinalStraw that collapses into its own clutch-friendly case.
The best way to keep teeth healthy through the holidays is to keep doing what you do — brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily and make regular appointments with your dentist at Soul Dental West or Chelsea.
Of course, in the busyness of the season, we can all use a little help to stay on track. If you find that late nights and packed schedules are wrecking your routine, consider downloading a toothbrushing app like Brushout (for iOS) or Brush Teeth Reminder (for Android). Both will remind you to brush, time your brushing and track your progress.