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Show your mouth some love this Valentine’s Day

happy patient licking lollipop

Whether you’re looking forward to romance or having a great time with friends, Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that everyone can’t help but notice. Sweet treats, thoughtful handwritten notes and endless supplies of red roses are just a few ways to show positive feelings towards that special someone. While you’re focusing on spreading the love, don’t forget about a part of your body that deserves extra TLC – your mouth!

Here are some do’s and don’ts that’ll keep you smiling this Valentine’s Day:

Get choosy with your chocolate

You may prefer milk chocolate over dark, but make an exception this February 14. The amount of sugar and milk in the lighter varieties of chocolate can contribute to tooth decay, while dark chocolate has more cocoa solids and significantly less sugar per serving. Dark chocolate also contains up to two to three times more flavanol-rich cocoa solids than its milky counterpart, according to Harvard’s School of Public Health.

Still need convincing? “Real” dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa contains polyphenols – natural chemicals that can limit oral bacteria. The combination of antioxidants like polyphenols, tannins and flavonoids that naturally occur in the cocoa bean make dark chocolate a tasty, oral infection-fighting treat.

Sip on the right cocktail

If you’re in the mood for spirits, choose one with vodka as the main ingredient. While a glass of red wine may feel more festive, vodka has been shown to help kill the bacteria in the mouth that causes bad breath, says celebrity dentist Dr. Brian Kantor. And skip the sugary mixers – those can bind to your teeth and kill all potential chances of a goodnight kiss.

Remember that no matter your libation of choice, alcohol can cause dry mouth. Be sure to stay hydrated by following the next tip!

Say “yes” to plenty of H2O

Holiday-themed drinks are tempting, but drinking water is the best way to keep your pearly whites fresh. Drinking enough water washes away food particles, fights dry mouth, limits bacteria and helps keep odor under control.

Don’t settle for the wrong date

You may be asking what your choice of V-day company has to do with oral wellness. In fact, it’s more related than you think! Being nervous is a cause of dry mouth and mouth breathing. By choosing a date, romantic or otherwise, who you feel at ease with, you can limit the risk of pesky side effects that come as a result of anxious thoughts.

Get mean with your greens

Think herbs are only good for garnishes? Think again! Munching on a sprig of fresh basil, mint or cilantro after a meal is an easy, healthy way to mask unpleasant breath. Your palate – and your date – will thank you.

Skip the after-dinner mints

It may seem like second nature to grab a post-dinner peppermint, but choose wisely! Opting for sugar-free chewing gum will stimulate saliva, which in turn helps to keep odor-causing bacteria at bay.

Here’s to an amazing Valentine’s Day and plenty of good oral health habits to go around!

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Published: February 2020

The oral health information on this web site is intended for educational purposes only. You should always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.