With the holidays upon us, you might be looking forward to indulging your sweet tooth with all the cookies, candies, and hot cocoa you can get your hands on. However, if you have traditional or invisible braces, or just want a healthy smile for the new year, you should follow these nine orthodontic tips as the edible gifts start pouring in.

Avoid These Bad-for-Braces Holiday Treats

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, nearly four million people wear braces. Most of you probably know what you can and can’t eat on a daily basis, but you need to be extra diligent during the holidays. Nuts, candy canes, and caramels are popular at this time of year, but they can wreak havoc on braces and healthy teeth. Unless you or your child wears invisible braces, such as Invisalign, which can be removed easily for eating, you should avoid hard or chewy candies, nuts, and popcorn. You should also check the ingredients of holiday treats, which may have more no-no’s than you realize.

Eat These Teeth-Strengthening Foods

While it’s okay to indulge a little this holiday season, don’t forget to eat some nutritious food as well. Put out a veggie tray filled with carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, and tomatoes. Whip up a delicious dip, such as creamy avocado, to pair with your platter. Looking for something a little sweet? Slice up some cantaloupe, strawberries, oranges, or apples with a cream cheese fruit dip on the side.

Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking water around the holidays can help keep you hydrated, improve your skin, and wash away bacteria that otherwise builds up on your teeth and causes cavities. Drinking plenty of water can also help keep you fuller so that you don’t go overboard on holiday snacks.

Chew Gum or Have a Mint

While most orthodontists will tell you not to chew gum, chewing on a stick of cinnamon gum during the holidays can curb your cravings AND fight cavities. That’s because cinnamon can kill the bacteria that sticks to your teeth. Cinnamon can also help freshen your breath. If you have traditional or invisible braces, you should opt for cinnamon breath spray, drops, or mints instead of gum.

Don’t Slack Off on Your Dental Routine

If you’re like most people, your daily routine might go out the window during the holidays. However, your daily dental routine is one that you should keep intact. Twice daily brushing, flossing, and gargling are more important than ever if you’re eating more sweets than usual.

Schedule Your Next Orthodontic Appointment Now

The holidays and the new year are busy. You have gifts to buy and cards to write, but now is the time to schedule your next appointment with our orthodontist Dr. Ryan Nowlin to get a post-holiday check-up. Orthodontic problems can set in after your eating habits have changed or you’ve slacked off on brushing. Winter is also a great time to invest in invisible braces when many orthodontists have specials or you have some extra holiday cash.

Don’t Bite Into Those Gifts!

Many people use their teeth to open a present or pop a cork around the holidays. Save yourself an emergency visit to the orthodontist for a cracked or broken wire in your braces and keep a pair of scissors or a bottle opener handy.

Choose Cheese Instead

Not only is cheese a healthier alternative to the cookies and candies you’ll get this season, but it’s also better for your teeth. Hard foods and sugary treats can break a tooth, cause a cavity, or damage braces. Cheese, on the other hand, is soft enough for almost anyone to eat safely and its alkaline makeup can neutralize acidic food and drinks that damage teeth.

Skip the Red Wine

If you’re concerned about having a whiter smile, you may want to skip the red wine or other dark-colored beverages this season. Opt for clear or light-colored drinks, which are less likely to stain. Otherwise, rinse the residue away by drinking some water or brushing your teeth right after you finish your drink.

It’s the time of year for everyone to relax and indulge; however, if you go overboard, your teeth will pay the price. Rather than starting the new year out with a host of orthodontic problems, follow these tips to have a healthier smile the whole year through. Our team is sending you and your family the warmest holiday wishes! For more information about our services, contact our offices today and book your free smile consultation with Nowlin Orthodontics.