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(ARA) Millions of Americans will not be smiling this holiday season and it's not because they discovered coal in their stockings. They will be the teens and adults whose teeth and/or braces fall victim to the hard, sticky, chewy and gummy treats that make the holidays so yummy . . . and perilous to oral health.
"The week after Halloween is one of the busiest times of year for orthodontists," says Dr. Gib Snow, a Los Angeles-based orthodontist. "Emergency visits spike as we see children, teens and even adults who have suffered dental injury or damaged metal braces as a result of eating candy and other treats. In fact, many treats that we commonly enjoy throughout the holiday season can be harmful to our teeth."
If your overall dental health is good and you practice good oral hygiene, you can probably safely indulge in some holiday treats as long as you do so in moderation. However, if you have a history of breaking or weak teeth, have a lot of fillings or crowns, or wear metal braces, you may want to take some precautions to protect your teeth this holiday season.
Dr. Snow offers some simple tips:
Teens and adults who wear metal braces are particularly at risk during the holidays, Dr. Snow points out. Many of the treats they will enjoy during holiday parties like caramel apples, popcorn and sticky toffee don't mix well with metal braces.
Parents should consider some additional precautions:
Teens and adults considering orthodontic treatment should weigh all the alternatives and look for options that will best suit their lifestyle, Dr. Snow advises. Alternatives to metal braces, like Invisalign and Invisalign Teen, replace traditional wire and brackets and are equally as effective for straightening teeth, according to Snow.
"When weighing treatment options, families need to consider the many impacts of orthodontic care over the entire course of treatment, which averages about a year," says Snow. "Because clear braces are removable, there are no food restrictions and no emergency appointments for broken brackets. These can be significant factors for many families, whether it's the holiday season or not."