If you’ve lived in Idaho for any length of time, then you know how cold and brutal our winters can get. And whether you’re a person that loves winter and can’t wait for the first snowfall or you’re counting down the days until Spring and Summer, no one is immune to the pesky problems that winter brings, especially when it comes to your oral health. From the extra treats, we get on the holidays to cold sores and breathing in cold air which can be painful for sensitive teeth, to just not drinking enough water, winter can cause a whole bundle of issues if you’re not careful.
Continue reading to learn five simple ways that you can make sure your family’s smiles are happy and healthy all winter long!
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate.
During the hot summer months it’s easy to knock back the allotted 8 cups of water a day, however, in winter, many of us have a harder time getting in that much-needed H2O.
Water is essential for numerous functions that are performed in the body and is also a key component to keeping your mouth healthy. Staying hydrated keeps your mouth from becoming dry, which can cause problems. When our mouths become dry, bacteria can start to grow causing tooth decay and gum disease, not to mention bad breath. Staying hydrated during winter can also help to keep your lips from chapping and cracking.
A good rule of thumb to make sure you’re getting the right amount of water(no matter what time of year) is to try to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water. For example, if a person weighs 150 lbs, he or she should try to consume at least 75 ounces of water daily.
Proper hydration will help to keep your body functioning properly and can also help to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Regular water intake will help to protect the enamel of your teeth, naturally improve gum health, keep saliva production normal, as well as, help to move food bits out of the mouth to keep bacteria from forming.
Wash Your Hands
We know, we know. As if you need another reason to wash your hands. Winter is the season when cold sores around the mouth flare-up. Unfortunately, the bitter cold can also make cold sores more painful. While it’s impossible to completely eliminate cold sores from happening, washing your hands frequently can help to keep germs from spreading. Along with washing your hands, here are some tips to help you keep cold sores away this winter:
- Avoid contact with infected body fluids, like kissing an infected person
- Avoid sharing eating utensils and drink cups or anything that a person with a cold sore might have used.
- Try to avoid things that cause cold sore flare-ups like stress, colds, and the flu.
- Use a lip balm with an SPF of at least 15 and sunscreen on your face. Sunlight can cause flare-ups and worsen cold sores.
- Wash your hands often! This protects you from spreading the virus to other people as well as other parts of your body.
- If you get cold sores often, talk with your doctor. He or she may be able to prescribe you medication to prevent cold sore outbreaks.
Be Mindful of Holiday Treats
By now, you probably know how bad sugar is for your teeth. However, we understand that it’s next to impossible to remove all sugar from your diet, especially during the holiday season. So rather than abstaining from all the treats you love, as your Rexburg family dentist, we suggest simply being more mindful of your ‘holiday treat intake’ this season.
Harvard Health explains some simple ways to be more mindful of how many treats your consuming, not just during the holidays, but all year round:
- Reflect. Don’t just go through the motions. Before eating, take a moment to reflect on how you’re feeling. You may be feeling rushed, stressed, bored, hungry. Assess your wants and needs first and then decide how, when, and what you want to eat.
- Sit down. Sit down while you eat. Don’t eat standing or on the go. It’s harder to track how much food you eat if you’re multitasking.
- Turn off the screens. Distractions make us less aware of how much food we are actually eating.
- Serve your portions. Don’t eat from the bag or box.
- Choose a smaller plate. If you have issues with portion sizes, try eating from a smaller size plate to see if that helps.
- Give gratitude. A lot went into the making of your meal, take a moment before eating and drinking to give thanks.
- Chew slowly. Take time to enjoy the flavors and textures of the food. A rough guide is to try to chew each bite 30 times.
- Put down your utensil. Try to put your utensil down between each bite and don’t pick them up until after you’ve finished your bite of food.
- Resign from the “Clean Plate Club”. While food shouldn’t go to waste, stuffing yourself isn’t helpful either. Here’s your permission slip to resign from the Clean Plate Club. Consider taking any leftover food home with you or as previously mentioned, opt for a smaller plate of food to begin with.
- Silence. Now and then, try eating a meal in silence, or at least for a few minutes. This will help you to relive the experience of actually enjoying what you’re eating. Try it! It may be awkward at first, but it’s worth it.
Be Kind To Your Teeth & Jaw
Sensitive teeth have a hard time during the winter months. Talk to your family dentist in Rexburg about switching to a toothpaste that is designed for sensitive teeth and has fluoride.
Along with switching kinds of toothpaste, consider getting a soft-bristled toothbrush to ensure that your dental hygiene routine is pain-free.
In addition to switching to a toothpaste and toothbrush that is designed for sensitive teeth, it’s also important to keep our face and jaw warm when you adventure out into the cold. As this article points out, when your neck and face are exposed to the cold weather, your gums, teeth, and jawbone pay the price. Protect your face and neck by wearing a scarf that is weather appropriate and a mask if necessary.
Schedule An Appointment Your Rexburg Family Dentist
Making sure to see your dentist at least twice a year for dental cleanings and routine checkups is another important step to keeping your teeth and gums healthy.
If you need to make a routine appointment or are looking to use up the rest of your flex plan dollars or cash in on your dental insurance benefits, contact our Rexburg family dentist office today. In the meantime, stay safe and warm out there!
Dr. Stacey Bauer is a 1983 Graduate of the University of Pacific. Dr. Bauer spent several years in living and working in Terreton Idaho where he enjoyed raising his family, and working in the community. Dr. Bauer enjoys farming and family outings.