Holidays are for everyone, regardless of religion or ethnicity. During a period like this, there is a lot of fun to be had with friends and family, and there is plenty to eat and drink. It is also easy to ignore your teeth, with dire consequences.
Here is a list of things that you must not do this season:
Forget what you heard years ago: cracking bones does not make your teeth stronger, neither is it a form of exercise. There are safer ways to get calcium into your body like drinking milk or taking supplements if you must. Your teeth should not be subject to such torture if you want to avoid your teeth breaking and experiencing serious pain. So instead of dealing with the bones, please leave them in your plate!
2. Open crown corks with your teeth
The temptation is there…there is a chilled bottle of soft drink right in front of you and no opener in sight. You have tried the edge of the table stunt or even attempted the spoon trick but neither works. If you or anyone you do has done this before, then there is a great chance that you have a fractured tooth. Sometimes, these are as small that they are called hairline fractures. As with china plate and windscreen fractures, the ultimate crack happens eventually…or even instantly!
3. Forget to brush at night
After all the fun that is to be had, you get home and head straight for the bed, right? Wrong! Brushing at night is the way to go if you want to get rid of the particles of cake, sweets, rice etc and remove plaque so that the bacteria do not have an extra 6-8 hours to wreak havoc in your mouth.
4. Use a hard toothbrush
We have all been there: you travel home for Christmas or you take a fun trip and forget your toothbrush. Then you dash to the nearby store and all you can find are hard toothbrushes so you buy one and use it during your entire holiday. This is a no-no. Do let your toothbrush be one of the most important things that you carry along and if you need to buy one, try your possible best to get buy the right textured tooth brush.
5. Use toothpicks
Festive periods are incomplete without a great assortment of animal sourced protein. Ok, we are talking about goatmeat, chicken, turkey, beef etc. Their strands often get stuck in between our teeth and require removal. However, the proper way to remove them is by using dental floss, not toothpick. Please ignore those sticks that are passed around after meals or kept on the table right in front of you, so that you do not come down with gum problems.
6. Neglect your health
Your body is a complete system and whatever wrong you do to it can affect every part of it, including your mouth. Remember to take medications appropriately if you are on any; avoid consuming alcohol in excess; get some exercise; eat as healthy as possible; and drink adequate amounts of water. There is no point putting your health in jeopardy during the holidays and ending up being a mess afterward!
If you happen to have a dental problem during this period, don’t visit a chemist and pick some combination of drugs or use weird things like battery water, aspirin, touch and go etc. These things all have horrible side effects. Try to locate an open clinic wherever you are or reach them via telephone. Many clinics have emergency lines that you can call to get a quick consult.
The holidays present us a time to relax and enjoy ourselves with our loved ones, which is a great reason not to damage our teeth and gums. Always consult your dentist when in doubt.
We wish you a very happy holidays from Nene dental centre!
Dr. Olatunde Asagba is an alumna of the dental school at the prestigious University of Ibadan, Nigeria. She is passionate about public health issues and is actively involved in expanding healthcare access through telemedicine.