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Dentist Gives Advice to Keep Holiday Smiles Bright

SATURDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) -- The busy holiday season may disrupt many people's daily routines, but at this time of year it is especially important to remember to look after your teeth, an expert advises.

"Holiday get-togethers tend to lead people to consume sugary treats and drink alcoholic beverages more than usual," Dr. George Shepley, spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry, said in an academy news release.

"Additionally, with their busy schedules and increased stress levels, I've noticed that my patients' oral hygiene suffers. They forget the most basic of oral hygiene tasks that can counteract the effects of sugary snacks and drinks," he pointed out.

Shepley offers suggestions on a number of ways to protect your teeth during the holiday season.

To reduce the risk of damage from drinking red and white wines, which are highly acidic and can eat away at a tooth's enamel, refrain from swishing wine around in your mouth and drink water between glasses of wine to rinse acid from your teeth.

And, while holiday goodies such as cookies, chocolate and candy canes are tempting, the sugar in them promotes the growth of cavity-causing bacteria. If you can't brush or floss after eating sweet treats, drink water or chew a piece of sugarless gum, which will increased saliva flow and help wash away the bacteria.

Finally, Shepley pointed out, holiday stress can cause some people to grind or clench their teeth, potentially resulting in chipped teeth, jaw pain and headaches.

"Finding ways to alleviate your anxiety can help, but it's also important to see your dentist, who can recommend solutions like a custom night guard," Shepley said. "Wearing one at night will prevent you from taking out the holiday stress on your teeth while you sleep."

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about keeping your teeth and mouth healthy.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Academy of General Dentistry, news release, Dec. 6, 2011

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