It’s that time of year again. The trees change colors, the mornings are cooler, and everything under the sun is pumpkin spice. Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to show gratitude for our blessings. It’s one of the few times a year that we take the time to make all our favorite foods and allow ourselves the opportunity to indulge.
Getting caught up in the festivities and forgetting more mundane things like good oral health is easy. However, falling out of your oral hygiene habits can have consequences, and a few simple steps can ensure you have a bright, healthy smile for many Thanksgivings yet to come.
A Good Daily Dental Hygiene Routine
An effective daily dental regimen is the best foundation for a healthy smile through the holidays.
Flossing Between Teeth
Flossing between meals will remove food debris and plaque from between teeth and under the gumline, where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. You may notice minor bleeding if you’ve missed a few days. Continue flossing for several days, and the bleeding should stop. Be thorough but gentle.
Scraping Your Tongue
Your tongue is covered with taste buds that have tiny spaces between them. The warm, moist environment encourages microbial growth. While some microbes aid in breaking down food as part of the digestion process, other microbes can cause bad breath, interact with sugars to create acids that eat your tooth enamel, and cause infections that weaken your teeth. Scraping your tongue exfoliates it, removes food debris, and rids your mouth of microbial growth so it doesn’t get out of hand.
Brushing Your Teeth
Now that you’ve cleared your tongue and teeth of hard-to-reach debris, it’s time for a deep clean. Brushing for two minutes twice daily helps remove food debris and plaque trying to form on the surface of your teeth. Plaque takes approximately 24 hours to harden, so brushing twice daily will go a long way toward a clean, bright smile. Remember, your teeth aren’t the only surfaces in your mouth that can use attention. Gently brush your gums, especially along the gum line. Food can get trapped between the tooth and the soft gum tissue.
Fluoride hardens and repairs the surface of your teeth from wear and tear, food acids, and other damaging substances. You can use a fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash. Brush or swish thoroughly. Your preventive care dentist gives you a more concentrated fluoride treatment and recommends you avoid drinking or eating for 30 minutes so the fluoride can adhere to the surface of your teeth.
Using fluoride or not, swishing mouthwash around your mouth for 30 seconds can get anything flossing and brushing missed from hard-to-reach areas, freshen your breath, and hinder microbial overgrowth. You may also want to gargle it in the back of your throat where you don’t brush; just don’t swallow it.
Holiday Specific Tips
In addition to a daily dental routine, you might include some of the following tips:
Whitening Your Teeth
Traditionally, many people use the Thanksgiving gathering to assemble their families for the Christmas Card Photo. If you’d like to brighten your smile before sending out those cards, you can search the term “cosmetic dentist near me” and make an appointment. Whitening in your dentist’s office is a quick and painless way to improve your smile.
Protecting Your Teeth
There are bound to be sweet and delectable treats at any Thanksgiving feast.
- Sticky sweets, like caramels, are more likely to get caught in the nooks and crannies of your teeth, encouraging cavities. Brush after you indulge, or better yet, choose desserts that aren’t sticky, like pies, cakes, and candies that don’t stick to your teeth, like chocolates and candy corn.
- Even if you can’t brush directly after the meal, swish water in your mouth to get the remaining bits of food.
- Drink often throughout the meal to clean your palate. It protects your teeth and allows you to taste your food better, making it a more enjoyable experience.
Repairing Your Teeth
Family gatherings at Thanksgiving often involve fun family activities while the turkey is in the oven. There’s nothing quite so entertaining as a game of touch, flag, or mud football to reaffirm your position as the queen of football, especially when you only see family members a few times a year.
Competition can get intense, however, and we sometimes see a chipped or broken tooth on Thanksgiving, making enjoying a fabulous meal uncomfortable. There are emergency dental services should the roughhousing end in injury. You can get in, repair the tooth/teeth, and return before the feast.
With these tips, you can keep your smile white, bright, and strong through many Thanksgivings to come. So, enjoy everything the holiday offers, from family to football to the fabulous feast with confidence.