Holiday Guide to Safe Eating Christmas 2020: A Dentist’s Holiday Guide

The lockdown period has increased our appetites and our waistlines. With the holidays upon us even more consumption will take place.

Here is your Holiday Guide to Safe Eating for Christmas 2020 from a dentist.

As a dentist, the holiday season means overconsumption of sweets, desserts and sugar on a whole. What does that mean for your teeth? Not much if your teeth are already in good condition.
If you already have cavities, badly fitting dentures or temporary restorations older than a year, the holiday season may leave you clutching your mouth and your purse.

…the holiday season may leave you clutching your mouth and your purse.

This is the time of year where we can eat right through from breakfast to dinner without taking a break. I know it might be tempting to not brush your teeth, but you still need to brush at least twice and day and more importantly FLOSS.
Regardless of whether it’s a holiday or not, ensuring that your teeth are not bathed and caked in acids 24 hours a day, is a good way of preventing dental emergencies.

Soft/Carbonated Drinks

Sodas / Soft Drinks
Sodas / Soft Drinks

More potentially harmful than sugar, are the soft drinks (sweetened carbonated beverages). Your fridge may look like a Crayola box of colors with these bad boys. Besides being loaded  with sugar and full of dyes which give them their radioactive appearance, they are alarmingly acidic.
As you would have realized from previous articles, even though enamel is the hardest substance in the body, its nemesis remains acid. Even though you may choose sugar-free versions of your favorite soft drinks, they are still as acidic as their sugary counterparts.

Special message to the amateur cooks and chefs who will be cooking up a storm and need a pep in their step. Don’t keep reaching for energy drinks.  Remember energy drinks can do some serious damage to your teeth. I don’t want to imagine what they’ll do to other parts of your body. Everything in moderation.
Water should be your most widely consumed beverage over this holiday season and you can drink it anytime and anywhere without having to worry about damaging your pearly whites.

Dental Trauma

Hopefully people won’t be hiding bones or forgetting utensils in food to cause you to break a tooth. However teeth that might already be in bad shape can be prone to chipping and breaking.

Ice chewers

Avoid chewing ice
Avoid chewing ice

If you do this please stop. Most ice makers come with a crushed ice function. If your teeth are in great shape you still shouldn’t do this on a long term basis. Worse yet if you have underlying structural issues with your teeth. The force needed to crush ice can cause teeth to chip and enamel to wear down. The same goes for biting into other hard substances such as candies or sweets.

Bottle openers

I hate to mention this but sometimes I do this too and it’s a cardinal sin. Using your teeth as bottle openers.
You may be tempted as I am on occasion when a plastic bottle cap is on a bit too tight to use your teeth as medieval vice grips. I cannot even begin to tell you the amount of force you are applying in an unnatural direction to accomplish this task.

Therefore people who already have shaky teeth, periodontal disease which can cause teeth to lose their bone support, crowns, caps, or veneers  can end up losing their natural teeth and/or restorations.
As for group 2  in this category, people who pop open bottle caps from glass bottles; stop immediately.

Bone crushers

People who love to bite up bones to get to the marrow. I know quite a few Caribbean people who enjoy doing this. The same problem as above exists but as an added horror, pieces of bone can become stuck in the gums. I think after the year we’ve all had, ending up with bone shards in your gums during the holidays shouldn’t be added to the list of calamities.

Tooth Sensitivity

This is enough to make grown men and women cry. Some people naturally have more sensitive teeth. This makes them more prone to perceiving hot but especially cold or extremely sweet or acidic substances as a stabbing, piercing acute pain.
If you suffer from tooth sensitivity here are some toothpastes that you may find helpful. You will however have to avoid the triggers.
Having said that, the majority of tooth sensitivity is caused by worn enamel, exposed roots and cavities.

You should book in before the holidays to see your dentist if you’re already experiencing tooth sensitivity. Your dentist may not even be available when the pain magically decides to not go away while you’re eating Christmas lunch.  Then you’re forced to resort to barbaric methods or use a dentist who you may not even like.
Dentistry is all about prevention not intervention. If you can at least get your cavities filled before the holidays you’ll have greater peace of mind.


Consciously eat slower
Consciously eat and chew slower

I’m writing to adults I presume. Never thought I would be writing about choking hazards for adults but it does happen.
Most people don’t chew their food long enough.  Around 5- 10 bites and it’s swallowed in large chunks, leaving the digestive tract to do the rest.

Choking occurs when food instead of going down the esophagus, gets stuck in the other pathway at the the back of the mouth – the trachea. Thats why I did an entire article on the benefits of slow eating.  The more often you laugh and talk  while eating, the greater the probability of your food being unconsciously diverted towards your trachea. 

That’s why you have teeth. Teeth are meant to grind food to much smaller pieces thereby reducing the probability of completely blocking the airway if these pieces do reach the trachea.

Seniors and elderly adults, must be especially careful to chew their food. Advancing age increases the risk of choking. The same goes for partaking in alcoholic beverages. Drinking alcohol increases your risk of choking.
Be especially vigilant with children over the holiday season as hard candies, nuts, seeds, and fleshy fruits can become choking hazards. We can all afford to eat slower and chew for longer. As an added bonus it can aid in helping us to eat less over the holiday season.

Bad Breath

This isn’t really about safety. Well maybe those around you might think so. This goes back to the issue of consuming large amounts of sugary foods, alcoholic beverages and not drinking enough water.

A dental cleaning should be performed before the holidays if you know you’re prone to stinky breath. As I’ve stated before poor oral hygiene is commonly the cause of foul odors. During the holidays make sure you don’t forget to brush your tongue, make sure to properly remove any food from between your teeth by flossing or using interdental brushes and you may benefit from using a particular mouthwash for the season. Make sure your mouth doesn’t dry out and make sure you are brushing your teeth after every meal.

I hope this guide has been helpful and you have a wonderful and healthy Christmas 2020.

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