Battling the Winter Blues? How to Maintain Oral Health on a Budget

February 06, 2017

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“Oh, the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we've no place to go
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

Not only is that song a favorite to sing along to, it’s a reminder of how easy it is to look outside in the wintertime and justify that certain tasks aren’t worth braving the elements. Winter can be dreary, gray, cold, wet, and depressing sometimes. Science actually backs up the fact that winter weather can be a physical and psychological struggle for many of us.

Why we get “the winter blues”

You may have already heard about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or “the winter blues,” a fairly common mood disorder mimicking clinical depression that appears to be directly related to the relative lack of sunlight and activity that comes along with cold winter days and nights.

But a new study seems to indicate our brain is actually “more active in the summer months than in the winter. In fact, brain activity related to attention and concentration peaks during the summer solstice and slumps to a low on the shortest day of the year.”

So it’s not uncommon for a cup of hot cocoa and a good book to win over some more productive uses of our time during the coldest months of the year.

But it’s important not to let that dreary, ho-hum attitude interfere with important positive habits like caring for your oral health!

How to maintain your oral health all winter long

No matter how much cocoa you sip or treats you enjoy during the long winter, you can still effectively manage your oral health using the same simple positive habits you’ve, hopefully, maintained your whole life:

  1. Brush your teeth twice a day - for at least two minutes each time - with a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristle brush.
  2. Floss between your teeth at least once each day with whatever type of floss or flossing tool is most comfortable for you.
  3. Rinse your mouth at least once each day with an antibacterial mouthwash.
  4. Visit your dentist for a thorough, professional cleaning and examination about every six months.

Depending on where you live, one of those two biannual visits to the dentist is bound to fall during the colder months. Don’t let that keep you from that important appointment! Even though it’s understandably easy to take the attitude of the song above, the weather isn’t nearly as frightful as the consequences of neglecting your oral health.

Tips for caring for your oral health on a budget

"A new study seems to indicate our brain is actually more active in the summer months than in the winter. In fact, brain activity related to attention and concentration peaks during the summer solstice and slumps to a low on the shortest day of the year."

For some individuals, it’s difficult to maintain proper oral health during the winter for a completely different reason: money.

Anyone with a job affected by the seasons, like landscapers or construction workers, or those in environments that naturally experience a lull during the colder months, such as popular summer tourist locations, may struggle to make it through the winter dealing with a particularly tight budget. For many, scrimping and saving until spring is a way of life.

Unfortunately, that biannual visit to the dentist may fall in the leaner half of the year, and may be viewed as expendable until the income rises again. But is it really something that can wait?

From an oral health perspective, failing to visit the dentist every six months can lead to small, avoidable problems turning into much larger and more serious ones before they can be diagnosed. This is true of oral health issues like cavities and gum disease, but can even involve more serious systemic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.

Don’t let “the winter blues” keep you from visiting your dentist regularly. If money is an issue, consider joining a dental discount plan to help cover the cost and make maintaining your oral health more affordable.

The weather may be frightful this winter, but your oral health doesn’t need to be.

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