The holidays are upon us, a time of togetherness, hugs and sometimes, a little mistletoe. You can also expect tons of photographs, either for holiday cards or at holiday gatherings. How can keep your smile looking good, feeling good and fresh for mistletoe moments? Here are a few tips straight from the smile experts at First Choice Dental.
Watch what you eat for fresher breath.
Holiday party food is full of bad-breath culprits, like garlic, onions, peppers and more. When the food you eat is released into the bloodstream, the lungs will expel the odor. Keep breath spray or a mint handy, and watch your intake of foods that can cause issues.
Watch out for other less-expected bad-breath causing foods in holiday treats, like spicy meats (pepperoni, salami and pastrami), cheese (especially soft cheeses), fish, dairy foods, seafood, and eggs.
Load up on fresh-breath foods that can actually help freshen breath.
- Herbs like parsley, coriander, spearmint, tarragon, eucalyptus, rosemary and cardamom. Chewed as fresh herbs or in teas, these herbs can sweeten your smile.
- A serving of yogurt each day has been shown to reduce the level of odor-causing hydrogen sulfide in the mouth. It also cuts back on the bacteria in the mouth. Choose yogurt with active cultures-not overly processed or sugar-added varieties.
- Munch and crunch! Apples, carrots, celery. Any fiber-rich fruit or vegetable creates saliva production that keeps the mouth moist and rinsed out, to avoid the plaque build up that can worsen breath.
- Cs get an A+. Vitamin-C-rich foods like berries, citrus fruits and melons create an inhospitable environment for bacteria growth. A diet rich in vitamin C is also is important for preventing gum disease and gingivitis-both major causes of halitosis.
Be mistletoe-ready by chewing gum, but choose wisely!
- Make sure you choose sugar-free because sugar causes plaque build up, which makes breath worse. Who wants gum that worsens breath? Stay sugar-free!
- Gum that contains xylitol not only freshens breath, but also combats decay-causing bacteria. Xylitol is a naturally-occurring substance that kills bacteria that cause tooth decay. One brand that contains xylitol is Ice Breakers Ice Cubes. There are others. Just check the ingredient labels.
- Chewing sugarless gum can lead to production of saliva thereby reducing bad smell.
- The best gum to fight bad breath is the cinnamon-flavored gum. The cinnamon flavor decreases oral bacteria. Make sure you chew on sugarless cinnamon-flavored gum.
Fresh Breath Steps To Take Before the Holidays
- Schedule your next dental wellness visit. Regular teeth cleanings keeps odor-causing plaque and decay at bay, and helps make between-visit at-home hygiene to be more effective.
- Don't be afraid to ask your dentist about bad breath. If you feel this is a chronic issue for you, ask your dentist what can be done. You are not alone. Chronic bad breath is very common, and quite often, you can do something about it. Your dentist can offer advice on products and services that can address halitosis, odor-causing gum disease or other oral health issues that have an impact on your breath.
- Floss daily. It really does help! Not only with reducing plaque and decay, but also with fresher breath. When you only brush and neglect flossing, it's like cleaning one side of a dirty dish. Your teeth have more than a front and a back. They have two other sides that can only be reached by flossing. And only flossing gets between gums and teeth to remove odor-causing, decay-causing food particles that get trapped there.
- Get help with the latest at-home hygiene products. Sonicare Professional-grade Toothbrushes really do make a difference in your ability to effectively care for teeth and gums. And now even flossing's easier with electronic flossers that use a stream of air or water to keep your mouth clean and fresh, and avoid plaque and decay.
Be paparazzi-ready for holiday pics with a whiter, brighter smile!
Today's teeth whitening products and services offer options for a whiter, brighter smile in time for holiday cheer. Here are a few pros and cons to consider.
- Over-the-counter teeth whitening options abound. While they're less expensive than having your dentist professionally whiten your teeth, the active ingredients in the products are not as powerful, nor as effective as dentist-provided products and services. Also, because the whitening strips in over-the-counter options are "one size fits most", the fit isn't a custom fit and the whitening solution can end up on your gums as much as it does on your teeth, which can cause sensitivity.
- Take-home teeth whitening provided by your dentist involves having your dentist take an impression of your smile and then create a custom whitening tray to fit you and you alone. You then "take home" the tray and whitening gel and wear the tray filled with gel for a few hours each day until you reach the desired result, usually within 1-2 weeks. The advantage is that you control the result, and can re-use the tray in the future anytime by simply buying more whitening gel from your dentist's office. The whitening gel used in this situation has a higher % of active whitening ingredient, which typically is more effective and works more quickly than the less expensive, over-the-counter varieties. Some patients do experience teeth or gum sensitivity with this or other whitening options.
- In-office teeth whitening is the fastest, most dramatic but also the more expensive option to consider. Brands you may have heard of that dentists use include SapphireTM or ZOOMTM.