Ask Dr. Syed: How can I help maintain my teeth health over Easter?
The chocolate bunnies and endless gatherings over Easter weekend can wreak havoc on your health, and that includes your teeth. Travelling, a change in routine, lack of sleep, and endless delicious temptations on party snack trays are enough to throw even the healthiest person off track. That is why our team has compiled this blog to help you understand what the primary risks are for your oral health this holiday season. Read along for lots of useful and inspirational tips and tricks to stay toothache and cavity free!
According to the Ontario Dental Association, there are four primary culprits when it comes to your oral health and holidays: Sugar, Starches, Spirits, and Stress.
Foods that are high in sugar are known to heighten your risk of tooth decay. Imagine this: inside your dental plaque, there is a whole ecosystem of bacteria that feed on the sugar inside your mouth in order to create acid that ultimately harms the enamel protecting your teeth. Be mindful of sugar intake and steer clear of too many sugary and sticky foods this holiday season.
That delicious Easter cake, that loaf of fresh bread, and any other food that is carbohydrate based will actually break down into sugar and cause the same impact on your teeth as sugar itself. Beware of overindulging in foods that stick to your teeth and skip the seconds on dessert.
Just like sugar and starches, spirits (as well as fruit juices, energy drinks and even carbonated water!) have high amounts of sugar and acid as well, which unfortunately, increase your risk of both cavities and sensitive teeth. Moderate consumption of spirits over the holiday season is the best defense against tooth pain.
It is not just your mind that gets stressed out, in fact, your mouth gets stressed out too! On the one hand, stress may cause people to ignore their oral health needs and make consumption decisions that are dangerous for oral health. On the other hand, stress can trigger long term and high-risk oral health issues such as jaw pain, teeth grinding, gum disease, or dry mouth.
Understanding that each of these four S’s are deeply interconnected is just as valuable as stopping and taking a deep breath before satisfying those cravings. A study from the University of New Brunswick established a dangerous correlation between stress and sugar, cigarettes, alcohol, and caffeine, arguing that “some substances are mistakenly considered harmless stimulants although they often significantly increase stress”. These stimulants and stress triggers are the most common during long weekends and holiday festivities when the peer pressure to indulge is widespread. 
In order to protect yourself from a whirlwind of stress on your body, mind, and teeth this Easter, try following the following tips:
- Maintain your routine: Are you planning to visit family? Being away from home is no reason to skip your regular routines. From brushing your teeth twice daily, to regular flossing, to exercise, and ample rest, try your best to squeeze in the aspects of your health that keep you (and your teeth) strong all year long.
- Take a breath: It may sound simple but stopping before you indulge or experience stress to simply take a big breath is often enough to relax your mind (thus reduce stress) and make you more mindful of your consumption. Perhaps you don’t need that extra cocktail and cookie combo after all.
- Consume the good stuff: Did you know that nuts are stock full of vitamins and minerals that can strengthen your teeth, or that cheese neutralizes some acidity caused by things like sugar and spirits? Head to the cheese and nut tray so you can stay social without damaging your teeth.
- Be flexible: Remember, the indulgences over long weekends and holidays are temporary. If you falter and overindulge one day, don’t stress yourself out even more by settling into a place of guilt. Instead, remember to just take that deep breath before the next chocolate bunny arrives.
Dr. Syed and her team are devoted to providing a high standard of dental care and patient education to everyone who walks through the clinic door, anytime of the year. We hope that you can remain mindful of your consumption, remember to brush and floss regularly, and take time out to truly rest while still enjoying your time with friends and family. Your teeth (and your dentist) will thank you. Call us now to schedule your next appointment.