This Christmas, give your smile a gift by taking great care of it. The festive season is all about socialising with family and friends. But amid all the happiness and merry-making, we may find ourselves over-indulging in food and drink, which can negatively affect our general and dental health.
We don’t want to be killjoys, but the last thing you want during the holidays is a dental problem. So keep these 12 tips in mind when looking after teeth at Christmas. Doing the right thing enables you to enjoy the festive period without having to worry about costly dental bills and keep your smile in tip-top condition – now and into 2022.
So, let’s get started!
1. Down plenty of water
Water is essential for survival as the body needs it to regulate temperature, digest food, and transport nutrients from your digestive tract to your cells. Water also helps cleanse your system of wastes and toxins by carrying them out through urine and sweat – even blood is about 90% water. It also helps to keep your skin hydrated, making it feel and look smoother and more youthful and radiant.
We’re all aware that we should drink a glass of water to every unit of alcohol to keep our body hydrated and stave off the dreaded hangover, but did you know that water is useful in keeping the mouth healthy too?
By rinsing with water, you can get rid of food debris, wash away bacteria and neutralise any damaging acid contained in many drinks, including wine, beer, fruit juices, and fizzy, carbonated beverages.
It’s not always possible or practical to brush our teeth after eating and drinking, which is why rinsing with water is far more important than you think in protecting you against cavities, plaque, and gum disease. If you adopt one of our dental tips of the day during this holiday season, make it this one.
2: Watch out for wine
We’ve already mentioned that wine is highly acidic and can damage tooth enamel. However, alcohol is also high in hidden sugars—and the sticky property of sugar coats the teeth and gums to attract harmful bacteria.
Bacteria feed off the sugars and secrete harmful acid that erodes teeth and irritates gums, leading to gum disease. Thus, the combination of acid and sugar in wine is a particularly potent mixture that affects dental health.
Although red wine is slightly less acidic than white wine, it has the disadvantage of being loaded with chromogens (those pigments that give the wine its deep colour)—and tannins, which enhance the ability of chromogens to stick to tooth enamel.
So, while red wine may be marginally more beneficial to dental health because it contains less acid, it also has teeth-staining properties that can cause permanent discolouration to your pearly whites.
3: Beware of beverages
Whether alcoholic or not, the sugar content in many festive drinks is a significant concern. Many people will enjoy the traditional sugary drinks served at this time of year. Unfortunately, these drinks can damage your teeth and lead to cavities and enamel erosion.
Hot chocolate, eggnog, and cider are some of the most popular drinks during this time of year, with drinks such as fruit ciders especially damaging because they are highly acidic and sugary. Similarly, fruit juices and carbonated drinks are also acidic and sugary. One way of limiting the damage is to use a straw so that the drink hits the back of your mouth rather than coating your teeth. Otherwise, drinking water to rinse any acid and sugars will also help.
4: Take care with hard candies and chewy toffees
It’s hard to resist the array of sweet temptations around us at Christmas—but hard candy and chewy toffees can play havoc with your teeth, causing tooth fractures and even damaging dental restorations and other appliances, such as braces. Additionally, they’re packed with sugar that coats the teeth and provides the ideal breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
If you must indulge, refrain from chewing and let the sweets dissolve slowly to prevent damaging teeth or restorations.
5: Don’t brush after wine
Brushing your teeth immediately after drinking a glass of wine (or other acidic drinks) might seem like a good idea, but it’s not. This is because brushing your teeth while this acid is still present can cause damage to your enamel. You should wait for an hour or so.
You can do three things instead of brushing your teeth immediately after a glass of wine: rinse with water, chew sugarless gum, or use a straw to avoid contact between the alcohol and the bacteria.
6: Avoid subjecting teeth to unnecessary stress
Avoid having to call for an emergency dental appointment by refraining from using your teeth for anything other than biting and chewing food. Although it’s tempting to use your teeth to tear sticky tape or to rip packets open – especially if you’ve misplaced your scissors, it’s probably best if you don’t.
You can chip or fracture your teeth or even damage a filling—and we shudder to think what harm you can do to your mouth if you’re one of those people who decides to remove a beer bottle top with your teeth!
7: Take care of your dental restorations and oral devices
Anything that can harm your teeth can also damage dental restorations and appliances. Any hard, sticky, and chewy foods can be a problem for dental restorations, such as crowns or fillings. The same goes for orthodontic appliances like braces and dentures that are damaged easily.
Do pay attention to the type of foods you are eating. It could be challenging to get any restorations or appliances fixed during the holidays if you damage them.
8: Quit the cigarettes and cigars
While smoking is bad for your body, it’s also bad for your oral health. Quitting smoking altogether, or even cutting down during the festivities, has a big part to play in looking after your teeth at Christmas.
Smoking increases the risk of developing periodontal disease and makes it harder to fight infection once diagnosed.
The habit of smoking also negatively impacts the quality of your smile. Smokers can suffer from discoloured teeth, a stained tongue, and bad breath. The effects of smoking can be reversed, but only if you stop smoking completely.
9: Treat yourself to turkey
Yes—the bird of the moment is turkey and one Christmas treat you can eat without guilt. Turkey is an excellent source of vitamins, such as vitamin C and vitamin B3, that can help keep your pearly whites looking their best. It is also rich in phosphorous—an essential mineral for maintaining healthy bones and teeth. Furthermore, unless you’re gnawing on a wing or leg, there is virtually no likelihood that eating this soft meat will cause any damage to your teeth.
So, if you’re a meat lover, feel free to eat as much turkey as you like and don’t feel guilty about eating turkey sandwiches, turkey curries, and whatever else you do with the leftovers once Christmas Day has been and gone.
10: Get stuck into cheese and veggies
Cheese and veggies are good for your teeth and general health, making a great alternative to sugary snacks. Cheese is full of calcium and phosphorus, good for strengthening teeth and bones. Hard cheeses, such as cheddar, are especially good for tooth health as they naturally and gently scrape plaque off the teeth as you chew. This prevents tartar from forming and protects the teeth from the harmful effects of plaque bacteria.
Combining cheese with vegetables, such as carrots or celery, makes a delicious, crunchy snack that massages the gums and cleans teeth. Carrots are high in vitamin A which is required to form keratin—an essential protein found in tooth enamel and celery contains vitamin C, which helps gum health by keeping connective tissues strong.
11:Take a travel-sized hygiene kit with you
Take a dental care kit with you while visiting friends and relatives throughout the festive season. Pack a travel toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, and interdental brushes in a small bag or pouch, and you’ll have everything you need to keep your mouth clean and problem-free.
12: Make better oral health your new year resolution
Better oral health is achievable as small daily changes can make a huge difference.
If you don’t floss, add it to your routine—it only takes an additional minute or two each day. Besides, proper flossing is far easier to do in pursuit of good health than those unrealistic January fitness goals you set every year.
So there you have it, the 12 tips of Christmas for looking after your teeth.
If you want further advice about how to take better care of your smile in the long term, book an appointment with Carmen and her team at Foxbury Dental or call us on 01858 455 100 today.
While you’re here, don’t forget to talk to us about our affordable care plans allowing you to get routine private dental care at a discounted price – all for as little as £8.49 per month.
What are you waiting for? Make a visit to Foxbury Dental your #1 New Year’s resolution!
Giving Blood.Org – Blood Components – What is Blood Made Of?
Mouth Healthy.Org – 4 reasons Why Water Is The Best Beverage For Your Teeth
NCBI – Effects of Smoking on Periodontal Health – A Review
Mayo Clinic – Phosphorous Nutrition And The Treatment of Osteoporosishttps://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(11)63261-8/fulltext