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The Twelve Days Of Good Oral Health

12/15/2014 06:16 EST | Updated 02/14/2015 05:59 EST
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It's that time of year again, where holiday party season kicks into full swing and scheduling get-togethers can become a daunting task; almost as daunting as figuring out how to stay healthy over the holidays.

One highlight of holiday gatherings is the food and its indulgences. While we know that eating too many sweets is not good for our waistline, it can be challenging to maintain a healthy diet. Beyond thinking "I'll reset my diet in the new year" we often overlook the fact that our teeth and oral care play a big role in our overall health.

So what can we do to keep our pearly whites healthy over the holidays? I chatted with Dr. Gary Glassman (Dr. G) one of Toronto's leading endodontic specialists, who shared some of his top tips to help us get through the holidays with his Twelve Days of Good Oral Health.

2014-12-15-1572262745_a37f055a51_b.jpg Photo By: Conor Lawless

On the first day of good oral health, my dentist gave to me:

A Turkey Dinner For The Whole Family

Turkey is full of fibre and phosphorus, which both aid in building strong and healthy teeth. The protein provided by phosphorus radically reduces the chances of tooth decay build up. It's also a good idea to eat high fibre food over the holidays because they scrub the surface of our teeth while we eat, inhibiting plaque build up and guarding against cavities.

On the second day of good oral health, my dentist gave to me:

A New Toothbrush For You And Me

Tis the season for sugar overload and forgetting to brush your teeth three times a day. Be sure to add toothbrushes to your shopping list, as well as toothbrush cases, to help you keep your toothbrush separate from everyone else's. After indulging in festive goodies be sure to use proper brushing protocol to avoid a dental disaster.

On the third day of good oral health, my dentist gave to me:

An Ounce of Prevention That Could Save Your Teeth

The perfect time to visit your dentist is actually right now, just before the holidays kick into overdrive. Dental exams and screenings can identify potential problems before they occur and your dentist can tell you if your teeth are ready for a plethora of parties, holiday meals and pot lucks.

On the fourth day of good oral health, my dentist gave to me:

A Healthy Eggnog Alternative

Typically, a glass of eggnog contains over 200 calories, 7 grams of fat and a whopping 20 grams of added sugar. All that added sugar turns the mouth into a haven for bacteria. With a few tweaks and alterations you can make a guilt-free eggnog that tastes great. Replace cream with 1%, low fat, soy, coconut, rice or almond milk. To cut down on sugar, try natural sweeteners like coconut sugar or honey.

On the fifth day of good oral health, my dentist gave to me:

A 1,000 Megawatt Smile

A beautiful smile is the perfect accessory, not just during the holidays but for every season. Always consult your dentist about bleaching and be aware of foods that can negatively affect bleaching results. Dark foods can cause stains resulting in discolouration that is worse than before bleaching. Red wine, soda and blueberries are the worst so be sure to follow their consumption with a few glasses of water, to wash away acid and stain-inducing pigments.

On the sixth day of good oral health, my dentist gave to me:

(Wo)man's Best Friend

Your pet's dental care is just as important as your own and happy pets mean healthier owners. Recent studies have found that pet owners make less doctors visits, have lower blood pressure and lower likelihood of suffering depression. Be sure to have your pet's teeth checked regularly to keep them happy and healthy.

On the seventh day of good oral health, my dentist gave to me:

A Kiss Under The Mistletoe

'Tis also the season for kissing underneath the mistletoe and more than just a decor item, mistletoe has many overall health benefits. Mistletoe extract can be used to treat convulsive coughing, bronchial asthma and its calming properties ease the psychological tension of caused by asthmatic attacks. Mistletoe can also be used to treat dizziness, hypertension, hiccups and digestive cramps.

On the eighth day of good oral health, my dentist gave to me:

A Wake Up Call About Diabetes

During the holiday season people with diabetes are at special risk for periodontal (gum) disease. An infection of the gums can lead to painful chewing and even teeth loss. Traditional Christmas foods like mince pies, Christmas pudding and cakes should be enjoyed in moderation. Sugar-sweetened drinks like juice and soda should be avoided, so should fried foods. Having good blood glucose control is the key to preventing mouth problems.

On the ninth day of good oral health, my dentist gave to me:

Alcohol In Moderation

While food is a big attraction at holiday gatherings, festive alcoholic beverages are also in high demand and it can be hard to say no to the party cocktails and toasting rituals but Dr. G. cautions to toast in moderation. After an evening that includes holiday cheers, be sure to brush your teeth before bed and if you think you'll forget try leaving your toothbrush on your pillow as a reminder.

On the 10th day of good oral health, my dentist gave to me:

Permission NOT To Get Cracking

Ice, popcorn, hard candies and nuts are the worst offenders for cracking your teeth. Be sure to keep a nut cracker handy and please remember that your teeth are meant for eating, not bottle opening, nut cracking or package ripping.

On the 11th day of good oral health, my dentist gave to me:

A Healthy Trim Body

It was only a decade ago that we learned the connection between increased BMI (body mass index) and declining dental health. Persons with increased BMI had worse dental health, regardless of their teeth brushing routines. Aim to maintain a healthy weight this holiday season and beyond by exercising regularly and work to making improvements to your oral and overall health.

On the 12th day of good oral health, my dentist gave to me:

A Stress Alarm

Planning holiday gatherings can cause headaches, stomachaches and put you on edge. Too much stress and anxiety can also do a number on your mouth, teeth and overall health. Stress can cause canker and cold sores, teeth clenching and grinding and periodontal (gum) disease. Stress can also be linked to poor hygiene and unhealthy eating routines.

Boosting or resuming your exercise routine can relieve stress, help restart oral hygiene cycles, motivate healthier meal options, boost energy and your immune system.

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