Your guide to healthy teeth at Christmas
Christmas should be a time for rest and relaxation, but not where your oral hygiene is concerned. Christmas parties and indulgent festive puddings can take their toll on your smile; so we thought we’d share our top tips for a happy and healthy Christmas.
Food is EVERYWHERE at Christmas – it’s even hanging from trees! This makes it difficult to keep snacks and treats to mealtimes, and constant grazing becomes the norm. This can mean a dental disaster, particularly if those snacks are less than angelic.
By relentlessly exposing your teeth to sugary and acidic foods you’re placing them under constant attack and they don’t get a chance to repair themselves. This leaves you more susceptible to problems such as acid erosion and an accumulation of plaque, which can eventually lead to decay.
So make sure you give your teeth some down time over the festive season. You can even help them out by chewing sugar-free gum, which will stimulate the production of saliva – your mouth’s natural defence against sugar and acid attacks.
Steer clear of stains
Red wine may be the key ingredient of our favourite festive tipple: mulled wine. Unfortunately it’s also well known for staining teeth. You can limit stains by drinking through a straw, or by rinsing your mouth with water or mouthwash after a few glasses of Glüwein.
As well as staining teeth, mulled wine is also acidic. Prolonged exposure to acidic foods and drinks can erode the surface of your teeth, making them more sensitive; they can also appear darker, as yellow-coloured dentine starts to show through.
Christmas isn’t really a time to deny yourself but, if you are concerned about stains and acid erosion, creamy drinks such as Baileys are a better alternative and still feel suitably festive.
Stay mistletoe ready
Christmas cocktails and canapés can leave your breath far from minty fresh. But who knows when you’ll run into a spring of mistletoe? As the saying goes ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’, so here are our tips for battling bad breath:
• Brush your teeth – and tongue – twice a day
• Don’t forget to floss too
• Avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes
• Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva
• Avoid obvious nasties like cigarettes
Indulge your love of cheese
Cheese lovers rejoice! Although it may not be the best thing for your waistline, cheese may actually protect your teeth against cavities. So rather than opting for Christmas pudding or a slice of Christmas cake – choose cheese!
Cheese also increases saliva, which helps to neutralise acidity. So if you do enjoy acidic treats like fizzy drinks or mulled wine, you can help your teeth by following them up with a slice of cheddar.
Brush before bed
When you return home late from a Christmas party, brushing your teeth might not be at the top of your to-do list, but it’s so important. We should all be brushing our teeth twice a day, but it’s the brush before bed that’s the most important.
Sparing just a few minutes at the end of your day to brush (and also floss!) your teeth will scrub away all the food that’s accumulated throughout the day. Forgetting to do this once in a blue moon probably won’t have any impact on your teeth, but if it becomes more of a regular occurrence you may have problems. The bacteria in your mouth will feast on left over morsels of food, leading to a build-up of plaque. Plaque can normally be brushed away, but if left alone it will calcify and you’ll then need to see your dentist or hygienist for a professional clean.