Give yourself the gift of great oral health

It can be challenging to maintain your healthy smile over the holidays. Less-than-healthy treats are hard to resist! And you may not have as much time to devote to your oral and overall health. Follow these easy tips for great oral health during the holidays and give yourself a gift that keeps giving all year long.

Eat right

Cavity-causing candies, desserts, breads, chips, crackers and other sugar and carb-filled foods are everywhere this time of year. Here’s how you can keep from overindulging in foods that can damage your smile

  • Eat small amounts throughout the day so you won’t be tempted to eat too much at one meal. You can snack on smile-friendly apple slices, turkey, cheese, and nuts between meals to help curb your appetite.
  • Don’t linger near the food table so you won’t mindlessly snack on sweets and starches as you chat.
  • Keep produce on the menu. Most fruits and veggies are filling and good for your oral and overall health.

Try replacing sugary desserts with a delicious, incredibly easy fruit salad. Just slice and combine one banana, one apple and two pears with 7 ounces of plain Greek yogurt, then garnish with 4 tablespoons of walnuts and 3 tablespoons of fresh cranberries.

  • Enjoy that special treat. If there’s a favorite food you only eat at the holidays, take a small portion, eat it slowly and savor it. To minimize its effects, cut back on other sweets and starches and eat the treat as part of a meal rather than as a separate snack. You produce more mouth-cleaning saliva during a meal.
  • Give yourself 20 to 30 minutes before you decide whether to eat a little more. Your stomach may tell your brain you’re full and there will be leftovers for the next meal! 

Make sure you also drink plenty of water to clean your teeth and avoid cavity-causing dry mouth. 

Stay active

There are plenty of excuses to skip regular exercise during the holidays. Schedules are busy, you may be traveling, colder weather may discourage outdoor exercise, etc. However, there are even better reasons to stay active. Exercise can help reduce stress to keep your mouth and body healthy.

Look for opportunities to work in activity where you can:

  • Take a brisk walk after a meal.
  • If you’re stuck indoors, search for free online workout videos.
  • Use resistance bands for quick strength exercises whenever you have a few free minutes.
  • Plan a 10-minute exercise routine you can do in your bedroom to unwind at the end of the day.

Keep up with your oral health routine

Maintain your regular schedule of brushing twice a day and flossing regularly. And take full advantage of preventive dental coverage before the end of the year. If you have remaining tax-free dollars in a flexible spending account, consider using them on any needed dental services that are eligible for reimbursement.

If you had to cancel or reschedule your dental appointment this year, get back on your regular schedule of dental visits so you can keep smiling all season.

When you keep your focus on family, friends, and fun, it’s easier to keep healthful habits during the holidays and all year long.

*Updated December 2022