Protect your teeth from a prosecco smile this Christmas
The festive season is known to be the most indulgent season of the year where we all fall victim to excess. Whether it is too much wine at the Christmas party or too many mince pies, we are all guilty of consuming well above our daily intake of sugar, which can take its toll on our teeth and gums.
1Use a straw (not a plastic one) and watch that 'prosecco smile'!
Brushing straight after a drink is a bad idea as it will just rub in the acid into your teeth
Anna says: “Up to 80% of common tooth problems are caused by acid attacks on the teeth, leading to erosion which is the permanent and irreversible wearing a way of enamel - the hard-outer part of the tooth.'
She continues: 'Wine, beer, spirits and mixed drinks are acidic and have a high sugar content. In addition, alcohol also causes dehydration and dry mouth, which can lead to erosion, decay and an increased risk of gum disease. One way to minimise damage when you are drinking this season is to use a straw so the drink doesn’t bathe your teeth with acid or too much sugar.'
Reena says: “Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a glass of prosecco, however it is one of the most dentally-damaging drinks due to its acidity, sugar content and alcohol levels. Limit the damaging effects by enjoying in moderation, adding ice to dilute and drinking lots of water in between. Also, due to its acidic nature, brushing straight after a drink is a bad idea as it will just rub in the acid into your teeth. Instead, wait at least half an hour or so after you've had your last drink before brushing your teeth.”
2Do not skip your bedtime routine
Anna says: “As tempting as it is to come home and fall straight into bed, after all those nibbles and drinks, it is important to ramp up your oral hygiene routine. Make sure you are using a fluoride toothpaste to protect against damage. I recommend Regenerate Enamel Science Advanced Toothpaste as it can help remineralise early enamel erosion. Be sure to spit, but not rinse before bed to leave some of the toothpaste behind to protect the teeth. Another to tip is to make sure you don’t forget to clean in between the teeth too with either floss or interdental brushes as brushing only cleans 60-65% of the tooth surface. Plaque and food debris left behind overtime can lead to decay and gum disease.”
Reena adds: “Christmas is a time for giving, so why not gift yourself (or your family and friends) with the latest electric toothbrush. The current technology is pretty impressive and it’s a gift which will be useful every day.
“It’s going to be tricky with lots of late-night parties and weekends away but maintain your oral care regime to keep your teeth and gums healthy. This should include brushing twice a day (first thing in the morning and last thing at night) and daily interdental cleaning. It’s tempting to go to bed without brushing your teeth after a late night so why not get your family’s toothbrushes with toothpaste ready in advance? That way, half the job is already done! Also make sure you’re brushing for at least two minutes – make it more fun by brushing along to your favourite Christmas song. You may also want to add in tongue cleaning as well as a mouthwash to ensure you maintain that fresh breath over the festive period.”
3Snack safely & stay hydrated
Cheese is one of the few festive indulgences that is actually good for your teeth
Anna says: “We all consume a lot of food and drink at Christmas. However, did you know it is not the amount of food and drink you consume that can have a negative effect on your teeth, it is actually the frequency in which you are having them. The main cause of tooth decay is poor food and beverage choices - particularly those with high levels of sugar. When these are consumed, bacteria in the mouth thrives and grows off the sugar consumed. The bacteria then cling to the teeth, creating a chemical reaction that then eats away at the enamel. When this layer erodes, teeth become susceptible to damage and decay. Try not to snack too much in between meals to reduce the risk. There are some safe snacks, which can minimise damage such as raw vegetables, crisps and cheese. Regular water intake is crucial not only to keep you hydrated but also to help rinse away acid and food debris between snacks. Avoid coffee shop festive coffees if you can as they have an extremely high sugar and fat content.”
“Of course, it’s difficult with so many delicious treats on tap at this time of year but try to avoid continuously grazing during the festive period,” says Reena. “This drip-feed approach isn’t a good idea as it doesn’t give your mouth a chance to recover from sugar attacks. It’s not the amount of sugar you eat that damages your teeth, it’s how often you eat it. So, yes, that’s permission to gobble all those mince pies in one go!
“Diet has an important role in oral and general health so keep up a well-balanced diet with regular fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the festive period and beyond. Cheese is one of the few festive indulgences that is actually good for your teeth as it can neutralise the effects of sugar and acidic treats – so that’s a good excuse to treat yourself to a nibble (or two) at the end of your evening meal.”
4Freshen up on the go
Anna says: “If you are out and about, you can still keep your smile in check! Sugar-free chewing gum or mints after eating will encourage saliva production to help neutralise plaque acids and remove food debris.
For extra dental protection opt for those with Xylitol in them as it has been clinically proven to kill the bacteria responsible for dental decay.
My favourite are Peppersmith. I also like Regenerate’s Advanced Foaming Mouthwash which comes in a handy bottle you can slip into your bag. It has been developed to help restore early enamel mineral erosion, as well as delivering long-lasting freshness - pass the mistletoe!”
5Don’t skip your dental appointments
“No one wants toothache over the holidays,” says Anna. “It is advised you see the dentist once a year so they can pick up on early dental problems and possibly prevent them from becoming bigger ones. It is also recommended to see the hygienist between one and four times a year, depending on your needs, to remove any build-up of plaque, maintaining your oral hygiene to protect teeth and keep them clean.”
6Remember, teeth are for chewing
Reena says: “Wrapping presents (especially at the last minute) can involve ripping off strips of sticky tape with your teeth. Don’t do it - you’ll be putting lots of pressure on the edges of your teeth when you tear the sticky tape, so it’s an easy way to crack or weaken teeth, or even dislodge a crown or veneer. So as silly as this sounds, invest in a tape dispenser. In the same way, cracking nuts with your teeth is a bad idea. It can shatter teeth so use nutcrackers. After a few drinks, opening bottles with your teeth may similarly seem like a good idea, but it’s obviously got the potential to cause serious damage. So if you’re hosting a Christmas party, make sure you’ve got plenty of bottle openers handy for guests!”
The views expressed on these pages are the views of the cited experts only and do not necessarily represent the views of Wellness Edit. Please always get a second opinion where specific medical advice is required.
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