8 simple steps to a healthy festive smile and avoid an emergency trip to the dentist this Christmas:
So many of the foods and drinks we enjoy this Christmas are very acidic and can cause tooth erosion. From sparkling waters and fizzy drinks even down to the chocolates and mulled wine, not forgetting the fruit in our Christmas pudding!
With a little bit of planning, however, it’ss possible to enjoy all your seasonal favourites, and maintain a healthy mouth and smile at the same time.”
1. Stop Grazing! Instead of grazing on biscuits or sweets or selection boxes throughout the day, if at all possible enjoy your treats as dessert straight after a meal. We produce more saliva at meal times, which helps rinse away sugary food particles and in turn lowers your risk of developing cavities.
2. Avoid hidden sugars & extra sticky or hard foods
The length of time sugary food stays in your mouth can affect tooth decay. Avoid treats that tend to linger in your mouth, such like sticky candy canes or chewy toffees, as they will stick to your teeth more .The dried fruit in mince pies and Christmas puddings is also high in sugar and likely to adhere to your teeth. Also very hard foods such as granola, popcorn or nuts mean you run the risk of cracking a tooth or filling so be careful when picking the hardest sweet in the tin!
3. Mmm Cheese!
Cheese helps return the mouth to a neutral PH and reduces the chances of developing tooth decay. Even a small piece of cheese after a meal or as a snack can have a positive effect, so we definitely recommend a cheeseboard for dessert!
4. Chew Sugar Free Chewing Gum
If it’s proving hard to get your hands on a piece of cheese after a sugary snack, another great way to increase saliva flow and reduce your chance of tooth decay or erosion , is to chew a piece of Xylitol containing chewing gum such as Orbit Extra. This is nearly as good as going and brushing your teeth!
5. Turkey is our friend
Another tooth-friendly Christmas favourite is Turkey. Turkey is a fantastic source of protein and phosphorous, both of which help your body fight tooth decay and keep your teeth and bones strong and healthy.
6. Drink more water – even tap water!
Where possible, avoid fizzy drinks and even fruit flavoured waters or smoothies that can often be viewed as healthy but tend sometimes to be high in sugar and bad for your teeth. So many drinks/ juices will say no added sugar ( especially those aimed at kids) but if you look closely at the ingredients, there is high level of hidden fruit sugar or sweeteners added.
There is no better drink for our teeth than water, especially if we are having more sugary snacks than usual. Good old tap water will do, and it contains a small amount of fluoride, which itself helps prevent tooth decay.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the festivities will help to dilute any acid attacks caused by sugary snacks or drinks.
Regarding wine , try drinking it with your meal to alleviate potential damage to teeth as opposed to drinking it on its own in between meals. Both red and white wine can stain teeth so be sure to brush well afterwards with a fluoride containing toothpaste to reduce the risk of staining.
7. Don’t forget to brush! Keep in routine.
It goes without saying, don’t forget to keep up your usual oral hygiene routine over the Christmas period. Simply brush twice per day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste ( no need to rinse out the toothpaste with water after brushing) and floss daily. The flossing can be done once per day at any time of day or night : it doesn’t necessarily have to be done straight after brushing.
After eating sugary treats, a good tip is to wait 30 minutes before brushing. Some acidic foods soften your enamel, so if you brush right after eating them, you can risk damaging your enamel further while it is still sensitive. If you are prone to sensitive teeth in general, choosing a toothpaste such as Sensodyne or Duraphat ( available only from dentists) would be beneficial also.
8. Stock up on the Clove Oil
It may be an old wife’s tale but it definitely helps to have some clove oil in the house just in case of a dental flare up. It can ease the pain of a tooth ache or gum abcess, (especially from a sore wisdom tooth) to apply some clove oil directly to the sore area until you manage to contact an out of hours dentist.
If you do encounter an unfortunate dental emergency this Christmas, Frazer Dental in Kingscourt can help. We open the days between Christmas and New Year so don’t hesistate to contact the Frazer Dental emergency advice line, details of which can be found on our website www.frazerdental.ie