How to take care of your teeth this Christmas?
by Dr Sharon Robinson
YES, it is the season to be jolly and we’ll all be indulging in a few festive treats. However, all that eating and drinking can take its toll on your teeth as well as your waistline.
During the party, festive season it’s likely that we will be increasing our intake of sugar, whether that is through alcohol or sweet foods, so it’s important that we pay extra attention to keeping our teeth and gums clean and healthy.
Here are things to note and some tips for maintaining your oral health this Christmas so that you don’t have to pay too many visits to your dentist in the new year.
• It’s not so much about how much sugar we eat or drink; it’s more about how long it sits in your mouth. If you are eating and drinking sweets and sugary drinks, then do it at mealtimes. This is when we produce more saliva that will help to neutralise the acid that is produced by bacteria in the mouth and it will also help to rinse away food particles and sugary substances.
• Caramels and toffees will stick to your gums and the small grooves of your teeth. It’s difficult to get rid of these sweets even with regular brushing and flossing. The sugar will feed the bacteria in your mouth and generate huge amounts of plaque that can lead to tooth decay.
• Eating hard and boiled sweets can often lead to chipped teeth, not something you want over Christmas. When you chip a tooth, it can allow plaque to reach the nerve endings of your teeth, causing discomfort and requiring treatment. When acid or sugar enters your mouth, it takes tooth enamel roughly half an hour to recuperate from it. If you suck on a boiled sweet, then you do not give the enamel time to recover.
• Sour sweets have become more popular recently and they are not at all tooth friendly. The flavouring in sour sweets contains a high level of acid, which is just as bad for your teeth as sugar and can lead to tooth decay.
• Fruit juices and sugary drinks need to be consumed in moderation too. Again, the high sugar content will generate acid in the mouth, contributing to tooth decay. Drinking through a straw can help as it will keep the liquid away from your teeth.
• Alcohol consumption can increase the risk of oral cancer and this risk is increased significantly when combined with tobacco. It is thought that because alcohol dehydrates the cell walls in the mouth, carcinogens can permeate the tissue more easily. It can also increase your risk of gum disease- which destroys gum tissue and bone and is the leading cause of tooth loss and gum infections.
Maintain healthy teeth by following some simple steps:
• Don’t neglect your oral hygiene. This is easily done by falling into bed after a few drinks or a long day and simply forgetting to brush your teeth. One night of missed brushing won’t significantly affect your teeth, but repeated missed brushings will have an impact on your oral health.
• During festive times try to brush your teeth three times a day and don’t forget to floss or use interdental brushes at least once a day.
•Make sure you have a nice, new toothbrush. You should replace them every three to four months.
•Chew sugarless gum, which creates more saliva production and helps to wash away sugar and harmful acids.
•Drinking water regularly will also help to wash away sugar, harmful acids and food particles.
•Avoid snacking between meals.