Valentine's Day is quickly approaching, and with it is coming all that wonderful chocolate and sugar. Be it a dark chocolate bon bon or a chewy candy heart, a Valentine's Day treat is a treat to savor -- carefully. You and your valentine still need to look out for your dental health. As with any other holiday that includes a huge food culture, you can keep your teeth safe with a few simple moves.
Measure out Portions
It seems so thoroughly unromantic, but when you get a chance, put that box of chocolates on a kitchen scale and divide it into reasonable portions. Use small plastic bags or storage containers. These don't have to match the servings listed on the nutrition label on the original box, but do mark on each container or bag just how many servings each contains. This stops you from downing a ton of sugar at one sitting, which is not only helpful for your overall health but also prevents your teeth from being covered in too much sugar for too long. Remember that sugar feeds bacteria that lead to tooth decay and gum disease, so you really don't want to cake your teeth in that stuff.
Avoid the Hard Stuff
No, that isn't referring to alcohol, though moderation with that substance is advisable, too. Here the phrase refers to hard candy, brittles, and other hard foods like whole spices eaten during a Valentine's Day dinner or brunch date. Many people have a tendency to bite down on hard candies and chew them; others may chew food so fast that a bit of unground pepper catches them by surprise. The result can be damaged teeth and an opening for more decay.
Increase Oral Hygiene
You already know that brushing and flossing are necessary for basic oral health, and you may want to increase the frequency a bit during this time. Not too much -- you don't want to injure your gums by brushing every hour, for example -- but if you brush twice a day normally, brush a third time in the middle of the day or after a sugar binge. This is important: When you eat, the acids from the food can make your tooth enamel more susceptible to damage, so if you brush right after eating, you could contribute to damage instead of prevent damage. Wait that half an hour and then do a little cleaning.
Enjoy Valentine's Day; don't get overly obsessed with dental hygiene when you should be enjoying your meals and time spent with your partner. But do take extra care at this time because it's very easy to overdo the sugar and underdo the tooth care. For more tips on keeping your mouth healthy, talk to a dentist at offices like Belgrade Dental Associates.