By Dr. Richard Wolfert, DMD
The Toothboss, www.toothboss.com
When it comes to holiday sweets, most people worry about what it will do to their waistline. Not much thought is given about what an increase in sweets can do to your teeth.
While you might assume a few more walks or trips to the gym will take care of the sweets you consume over Thanksgiving, the potential damage to your teeth can be more troublesome.
Eating sugary desserts and treats raises the acid levels in your mouth to a higher than normal level, and that can lead to an increase in demineralization of the enamel and cavity formation.
Those candies left over from Halloween are worse.
The sticky nature of most candy provides the bacteria with more opportunity to create the acid that causes all the problems. And, it goes without saying that sticky candies and sweets are not the best thing to be eating if you have crowns, bridges, or other prosthetic appliances in your mouth that can be “pulled out.”
Does that mean you shouldn’t have any sweets during holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, and Christmas? Well, if you do not have dietary restrictions (e.g., diabetic) then it’s not the worst thing if you have good brushing habits in general. The simple fact is, most people do not know how to properly brush their teeth, from the standpoint of technique, length of time, and frequency.
After selecting a good toothbrush and toothpaste (I recommend a soft brush and any toothpaste with fluoride), a good brushing should take at least two minutes and as many as four. While there are many techniques for brushing, here is one of the more popular ways:
- Hold the brush on two to three teeth with a 45-degree angle on the teeth and under the gum. Gently press against the gum so the tips of the bristles go in between the gum and the teeth.
- Apply lateral pressure, making the motion of little circles with the final stroke away from under the gums in order to sweep the plaque away from the teeth and the gum.
- Repeat this motion six to 10 times and move on to the next area of two to three teeth. If your mouth is full of foam, rinse out with water and continue brushing. Your brushing is complete when you have brushed all the surfaces of your teeth – the fronts, backs, and tops of all teeth.
As far as frequency, you want to brush your teeth after each meal. This isn’t easy to do if you’re out at a party or gathering during the holidays. If you can’t brush right after you eat, you should brush thoroughly twice a day, after breakfast and before going to bed.
The holidays are not a good time to get a toothache. Many people schedule appointments to use unused insurance benefits and/or cafeteria (flex) plan benefits that will expire on Dec. 31 . Additionally, many dentists are spending time with their families. Often, you will have to be treated by a covering dentist who doesn’t know your dental issues as well as your primary dentist. Therefore, a checkup prior to the holidays is a very good idea. That way, if there are any problems, you can address them before you start eating those rich desserts and sweets at the holidays that can aggravate an existing condition.
If you need to get your dental work in before the end of 2023 to take advantage of your insurance benefits or cafeteria (flex) plan and are between dentists, please give our office a call at 781-335-0604. No insurance? The Toothboss offers a discount dental plan, https://toothboss.com/quality-dental-plan/.
About the Author: Dr. Richard Wolfert, DMD is the owner of The Toothboss, 1121 Main St., South Weymouth. For more information, call 781-335-0604 or visit www.toothboss.com.