The holiday season is in full swing, and smiles abound. That holiday mistletoe over the doorway also may lead us to closer contact with a special someone.

Dentists at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry say a healthy mouth is key to having fresh breath and an attractive smile.

“We find in dentistry that there are a few things people want with their teeth, and the biggest is a ‘pretty smile’,” says Dr. Charles W. Wakefield, professor and director of the Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency Program at TAMHSC-Baylor College of Dentistry. “Most patients put esthetics as the top priority item.”

But a healthy smile covers a mouth capable of revealing the health and wellness of our whole bodies.

“If you brush or floss and notice even a tiny amount of bleeding around your teeth and gums, this means all the pathogenic germs in your mouth are circulating all over your body, and this can affect cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, pre-term and low-birth weight babies and many other conditions we find that have a connection to oral health,” Dr. Wakefield says.

Dr. Wakefield advises patients to practice some common sense lifestyle tips during the holiday season and throughout the year. Brush at least twice a day, floss daily, eat healthy foods, watch alcohol consumption, stay away from tobacco products, and drink plenty of water.

“Make this the time of year you take control of your oral health,” Dr. Wakefield says.

— LaDawn Brock