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Ask the Dentist: What to watch for on long weekends

Dentists continue to be surprised by questions from our ‘always curious’ public. Around long weekends, we do expect additional patient traffic simply because they are the ‘hot spots’ of the year to participate in exciting things.
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Dentists continue to be surprised by questions from our ‘always curious’ public. Around long weekends, we do expect additional patient traffic simply because they are the ‘hot spots’ of the year to participate in exciting things.

Long weekends are eagerly anticipated by many as a break from the daily grind, a chance to relax and enjoy some leisure time. However, for some unfortunate souls, these extended breaks may turn into dental nightmares. From chipped teeth to unbearable toothaches, dental accidents seem to occur at the most inconvenient times. Let’s look at some of the worst long weekends for dental accidents.

The Canada Day Fireworks, barbeques, and outdoor activities make this an exciting time. Also, as the first big weekend of the summer, poor preparation does seem to enter the equation. Unfortunately, accidents can quickly dampen the celebrations. Fireworks-related dental accidents are not uncommon, with people sustaining severe facial injuries from unexpected explosions. Additionally, indulging in ice-cold beverages and chewing ice cubes to beat the summer heat can lead to cracked teeth or sensitive toothaches, putting a damper on the holiday festivities.

First Monday of August is a more recent summer long weekend, and does seem to create more of a family atmosphere. It doesn’t have the cachet of Canada Day or Labour Day in terms of party behaviour, and results in a surprising lower rate of dental accidents to repair.

Labor Day weekend, a time when millions of people gather for barbecues, parades, and outdoor activities, can often culminate in dental mishaps. BBQ accidents can lead to chipped or cracked teeth when biting into undercooked meat or unexpectedly biting onto a hard piece of bone. Similarly, engaging in sports and physical activities without mouth guards can result in knocked-out teeth or other severe injuries. Emergency dental visits often skyrocket during this long weekend, as people return to work with painful reminders of their memorable holiday.

Halloween festivities thrive on spooky fun and candy indulgence, but these festivities also come with dental risks. Sticky and chewy treats, such as caramel or taffy, can easily stick to teeth and dental work, leading to cavities or even pulled-out fillings. The combination of sugary treats and minimal oral hygiene during the Halloween season can quickly turn into a dental nightmare if proper care is not taken.

As we bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new, New Year’s Eve celebrations can be both joyful and treacherous for our teeth. Champagne corks are notorious for causing dental accidents, either by accidentally hitting someone in the face or, worse, by attempting to open the bottle with one’s teeth. It has long been the worst time of the year for automobile accidents, partly through seasonal weather related issues, and secondly over consumption. If that occurs, damaged teeth might be one of the least concerns. Additionally, excessive consumption of sugary alcoholic beverages during parties can lead to teeth sensitivity and cavities. It’s essential to exercise caution and use appropriate tools rather than your teeth, regardless of your teeth simply being ‘more handy’ at the moment.

While long weekends are meant for relaxation and enjoyment, dental accidents can spring up unexpectedly, causing pain and inconvenience. Remember to avoid using your teeth as tools, wear mouth guards during physical activities, and maintain regular dental hygiene routines to safeguard your oral health. Times have changed from days of old when beer was only available in bottles, not cans.

Most dentists practising during that era had a number of patients with sheepish faces and front teeth broken off in a triangular shape by emulating their own beer commercial without an opener! One patient admitted to me that the embarrassment at his own foolishness was almost as bad as the dental repair bill he incurred! He was indeed an overachiever. One top central tooth was broken at a 45 degree angle from one ‘bottle incident’, and when he was demonstrating to his buddies how that occurred, he made the tooth beside it ‘match’ with its own triangular break! He now has a family full of teenagers, and he made me swear to never tell them how he came to have dental crowns! By taking proactive steps during all seasonal and holiday activities, you can help ensure that long weekends remain enjoyable and free of dental nightmares.

Dr. Michael Dolynchuk is a General Dentist practicing in Caroline and Red Deer.



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