7 Oral Health Tips for the Holidays

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner. You’ll be flashing your pearly whites to family and friends before, during, and after the big meal. Why not wow everyone who sees your smile?! Take note of these oral health tips during this holiday season and your mouth will be just as grateful as you are!!

Cook with Coconut Oil

Cook with Coconut Oil

In addition to being great for your overall health, a 2015 study published in the Nigerian Medical Journal suggests that coconut oil may help offset gingivitis and nix plaque. You may not wish to rinse your mouth outwith coconut oil (a process called “oil pulling”), but you may wish to still incorporate coconut oil into your cooking. Swap olive or canola oil out with coconut oil to add a more tooth- and gum-friendly component to your stuffing, your side dishes, or your desserts.

Drink More Water

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You’ve probably already heard how important getting enough fluids is: When we don’t drink enough water, we feel fatigued and we get headaches or migraines. Staying hydrated is just as important for our oral health.

Above all else, water is relatively free of molecules that erode enamel and promote cavities. The makeup of fruit juices and other sugary beverages (especially sodas) can eat away at your teeth, making them more sensitive and vulnerable to oral health complications. Water offers a guilt-free refresher that benefits nearly every part of your being.

Proper hydration with water also helps prevent dry mouth. When our teeth, tongue, and gums are short on saliva, our risk for tooth decay increases!  So do yourself a favor and throw a few sips back before, during, and after your big Thanksgiving feast. (If nothing else, it may help you feel fuller, so you don’t end up gorging yourself on round three of dessert.)

Brush before Breakfast…

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While you sleep, your brain recharges and your body repairs itself from the day’s stresses. Meanwhile, inside your mouth, bacteria are building up. Hence why you wake up with “morning breath”.  You might think it is pointless to brush your teeth prior to breakfast (aren’t I just going to dirty my teeth with food and coffee right after?). But you’re doing your mouth a favor if you do.

Bacteria in the mouth acts as a catalyst for sugars from food, amplifying their conversion into acids that can erode your teeth! Brushing prior to the first meal of the day clears your oral slate so that the sugars from breakfast can’t do as much damage.

In lieu of overloading your teeth — and your morning routine, brush as soon as you wake, then floss and rinse your mouth out with mouthwash after you eat to remove any lingering food particles before you get to the office.

…And Wait to Brush after a Meal

As your day rolls on, you may wish to keep up to snuff with recommendations to brush at least twice a day by sneaking into the bathroom after every meal to floss and scrub your teeth. While the intention is admirable, the results may not be so great for your pearly whites.

Because the sugars from any food you’ve consumed are still lingering on your teeth getting converted into acids, brushing within thirty minutes of eating can accelerate erosion and exacerbate tooth and gum sensitivity. Your best bet is to swish some water around in your mouth and floss, then reach for a toothbrush after the half-hour mark.

Take Your Tea with Milk — and a Straw

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Milk has been proven to reduce teeth stains caused by tea. A study published in the November 2014 issue of the International Journal of Dental Hygiene found that a naturally occurring compound in cow’s milk called casein is responsible for these teeth whitening effects.

Milk may help buffer your teeth from coffee stains, too, so avoid ordering your energy boosters black. For an even safer hit of caffeine, drink your beverage of choice through a straw — this way the staining liquid skips your front teeth.

Using a straw may be a particularly smart choice for dairy-abstainers, since soy, rice, and almond milk haven’t been found to offer the same stain-protecting benefits.

Say Cheese!

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The idea that dairy products benefit your teeth (and your bones) isn’t new. But a 2013 study appearing in the journal General Dentistry found that compared to sugar-free yogurt and milk, cheese was far more effective in reducing acid levels in the mouth. Less acidity between your cheeks means lower risk of tooth decay and cavities. Perfect excuse to order that cheese plate for dessert!

Don’t Get Back to The Grind

Most people don’t immediately connect stress with oral health, but the relationship is strong. Not only can we forget to brush and floss when our mind is preoccupied by one too many deadlines at work or hectic traveling plans during the holiday season; the more anxious and under pressure we feel, the more likely we are to grind our teeth during sleep and keep a clenched jaw throughout the day.

Grinding and clenching can cause chips in the enamel that lines your teeth. In more severe cases micro-fractures can occur, creating a longer-term problem that renders your teeth and gums vulnerable to painful sensitivity, loss of tooth structure, as well as muscle tenderness, headaches, and migraines.

If you’ve got frequent headaches, find your jaw often tense, and generally feel more stressed out than you ever have before, it’s wise to schedule a dental consultation. You can prevent the worst effects of grinding and clenching by getting fitted for a night guard by a dentist while addressing any damage already done before it’s too late!

Call 212-804-8884 or book and appointment online at LesBellesNYC to schedule a dental visit before you leave for the holidays! You’ll be taking care of your health — and giving yourself one more thing to be grateful for during this Holiday season.