The holidays are the perfect time for family get-togethers and parties, which can present a few unique challenges in protecting your smile. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the average American consumes more than 150 pounds of sugar a year, and between Halloween candy and Christmas cookies, the sugar intake can surge over the holidays. Here are four ways to protect your teeth and avoid searching for emergency dentist near me while you’re visiting family.

Stay Hydrated
Water is not only good for your body, but it helps protect your teeth as well. Drinking water with fluoride guards against cavities. When you’re having Christmas dinner or attending a holiday party, sip on water during and after the meal. Food debris can, especially sugar from desserts can stick to your teeth. Drinking water after a meal or snack helps rinse away the food particles. You’ll bypass any dental emergency when you drink plenty of water and help your mouth produce more saliva, your most important natural defense against tooth decay.

Fill Your Plate With Veggies
When you attend parties or you’re snacking before holiday dinner, fill half your plate with fresh fruit and veggies.  Leafy green salads are packed with folic acid and vitamin B, both of which promote and healthy mouth. The best fruits and veggies for your teeth include:

  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Cabbage

Snacking on raw vegetables and crisp fruits protect your gums from bacterial infection and help clean plaque from teeth.

Keep Your Dental Routine
Evenings of gift wrapping and spending time with family can extend late into the night. Even though your daily routine may be out of sorts during the holidays, it’s important to maintain your dental care habits. Brushing at least twice a day, flossing, and using protective mouth rinse are especially important when you’re eating more and drinking sugary beverages. The last thing you want to do while on holiday vacation is search for an emergency dentist near me. Before your family begins to travel this holiday season, pack everyone a dental travel kit. Place the kits in suitcases before the trip so no one has to worry about packing their toothbrushes the day you leave.

Limit Your Alcohol
Whether you’re toasting a champagne glass to ring in the New Year or you’re warming up with hot buttered rum, many forms of alcohol can damage your teeth. Red wine can call for teeth whitening. The acid in white wine can eat away at your enamel and liquors can have a drying effect on your mouth. As you celebrate over the holidays, limit your alcohol intake and be sure to drink a glass of water after each alcoholic beverage.

Make your dental health a priority this holiday season and protect your smile. Even if you’re traveling or have a calendar full of holiday parties, keeping a dental care routine, making good food and beverage choices, and staying hydrated will help you maintain a healthy smile into the New Year.