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Oral Care for Holidays

Oral Care 101: How to Avoid Holiday Dental Emergencies

by Wasifa Ahmad Hasan

You must be wondering, another oral care article? Well, yes. Around holidays, various oral health problems arise at this time of the year, which can be easily prevented if you are a little proactive.

Your oral care routine not only affects the physical appearance of your teeth, but it affects your overall health and wellbeing as well.

That’s why seeing your dentist regularly, using the correct technique and equipment when brushing and flossing, and avoiding certain foods and drinks are critical.

Everyone needs a crash course on oral care every once in a while. So as the holiday season is approaching, read on to brush up on the basics of dental hygiene to keep your teeth and gums happy and healthy.

Oral Care Tips to Avoid Holiday Dental Emergencies:

Maintenance: Regular Dental Appointments

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 90% of American adults have had at least one cavity in their lifetime, and 1 in 4 people have left cavities to go untreated. Therefore, scheduling regular checkups with your dentist is an essential preventative measure. If you do not have a regular dentist, look for one around your area; for example, a dentist in Sandy Utah can help you out before the dental problems set in.

When you go for dental appointments, your dentist and hygienist can perform a professional cleaning, advise you about any concerns you may have, and recommend the best at-home care to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

You should schedule a dental appointment every six (6) months, even if your teeth and gums appear to be healthy – after all, prevention is better than a cure!

Brushing Your Teeth

Even if you always make sure you brush your teeth twice a day, you may be using the incorrect brushing technique or just rushing through your oral care routine – which means you may not be getting the full benefit of brushing your teeth.

Using bristles that are too soft or too hard and applying the incorrect amount of pressure are also examples of wrong brushing techniques – and so is using the same toothbrush for too long. If you’re using a toothbrush that’s four months old or if it’s frayed, it’s time to get a new one.

It would be best if you chose a toothbrush that’s the right size for your mouth – it should be able to reach the back of the mouth easily.

The Correct Technique

When you brush your teeth, the toothbrush should be at a 45-degree angle against your gumline. Then, move your toothbrush in a side-to-side motion, using short strokes to remove plaque and buildup mechanically.

Be sure to brush every surface of every tooth and behind, above, and around each one. You should brush your teeth for around two minutes, twice per day.

Don’t Forget Your Tongue

Tiny food particles and bacteria can build up on your tongue, leading to gingivitis, halitosis, and tooth decay – so don’t forget to brush your tongue, too!

 If a toothbrush feels too uncomfortable on your tongue, consider using a tongue scraper instead. 

You can read more about this on How to Revamp Your Oral Care Routine.

The Importance of Flossing

Believe it or not, flossing is actually one of the most critical steps in your oral care routine. Unfortunately, however, 70% of the population only flosses periodically or skips it altogether.

Failing to floss daily allows plaque and bacteria to build up between your teeth and inside the gum line – resulting in tooth decay, bleeding gums, halitosis, and periodontal disease that eventually causes infections and tooth loss.

To floss correctly, tear off 18 to 24 inches of dental floss and pull it tightly between both thumbs and index fingers until it becomes taut. Then, gently slide the floss into the small spaces between your teeth and pull it into a “C” shape. Next, thread the floss around the tooth and slowly slide it from side to side and up and down.

Repeat the process until all the spaces between your teeth have been thoroughly cleaned.

Food and Drink to Avoid

Even if you are meticulous about your oral care routine and visit the dentist regularly, some foods and drinks can still discolor or damage the enamel on your teeth.

Staining

The tannins in coffee and red wine can stain your teeth, and the acid in balsamic vinegar, fruit juice, ketchup, berries, and soda can erode your enamel. If you can, try to limit your intake of these foods and drinks. Here’s How to Protect Your Teeth From Tea, Coffee, and Other Beverages.

Sugar and Tooth Decay

Another thing to watch out for is sugar. Cavities are caused by caries – which are the bacterial infections that cause tooth decay.

Caries thrives on sugar from food particles that have been left to ferment in your mouth, converting it into acid that causes demineralization and decay of the enamel, dentin, and cementum of your teeth – which begins with the buildup of plaque and tartar.

Dental plaque builds up and hardens over time, forming tartar. Tartar is impossible to remove with regular teeth brushing alone – it will need to be removed during a professional cleaning performed by your dentist.

More Recommendations for Oral Care

Instead of drinking sugar-laden soda, rather drink water. Ditch the sugary gum and switch to sugar-free alternatives, and avoid excess snacking. Food that sticks onto the surface of your teeth – such as potato chips – should be removed as soon as possible.

Use toothpaste that contains fluoride, which will protect the enamel of your teeth and prevent tooth decay.

When tooth decay is in its early stages, you may not notice any symptoms – that’s why it’s so important to visit your dentist regularly. Your dentist will be able to identify tooth decay and any other problems before they become severe.

If There’s Pain, Get it Seen To

If you experience tooth sensitivity, swollen gums, or persistent or nagging pain that won’t go away, you shouldn’t ignore it. Instead, take action as soon as you’re in pain or feel like there’s something wrong. Your dentist should provide emergency dental services – you don’t have to just grin and bear it.

Tooth pain not only decreases your quality of life, ignoring the signs of a dental problem can lengthen the treatment and recovery process – or worse – ignoring a dental problem could lead to severe infection and loss of the affected tooth. 

It’s best to see your dentist regularly to prevent and treat the early signs of dental disease. Early treatments that can halt or reverse tooth decay include fluoride treatments or fillings, but treatment as tooth decay or gum disease progresses is considerably more invasive – usually requiring painful root canals and tooth extractions. 

You can find more articles about oral care, teeth grinding, at-home dental solutions in my dentistry archive. Have a look!

Hope this oral care 101 article will help you!
Have a question? Leave a comment!

Oral Care for Holidays


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