Dr Sameer Patel, from London’s award winning dental and orthodontic practice elleven, offers his expert tips:
- Don’t dismiss your routine. It is especially important that throughout the Christmas festivities you make sure that you do not ditch your oral hygiene routine. The worst thing to do is forget about your teeth over the Christmas Eve - Boxing Day period as this is prime time for indulging in extra chocolates, sugary foods and alcohol, all which can wreak havoc on your teeth. We need to make sure we are still looking after our teeth even amongst all the excitement, so make sure that you always brush your teeth at least twice a day, starting with when you wake up. After all, a few minutes won’t delay opening presents for too long!
- Careful with caffeine. With all the parties and festivities, the long nights and early starts are impossible to tackle without caffeine and we seem to be relying on coffee to wake us up even more than usual, but black coffee and tea can be harmful to our teeth as they cause staining. Why not opt for a latte as it contains more milk so is less staining to the teeth, or perhaps green tea as it is better for your teeth but still contains the caffeine kick.
- Be mindful of mulled wine. Mulled wine around Christmas time is always a lovely treat, whether you are drinking it at Christmas markets or you have made it yourself at home, it really warms you up and tastes delicious. It is worth being aware that it can also harm your tooth enamel so try to keep consumption to meal times and rinse after with water to help prevent the damage.
- Always use a bottle opener. During the numerous parties you will be attending during over Christmas, it is highly likely that someone will be there who decides that opening a bottle with their teeth rather than a bottle opener is a great party trick. Opening a bottle, packet of crisps or anything else with your teeth can be extremely damaging as wears away your teeth and you are far more likely to chip a tooth. If this does happen, keep the missing tooth in milk until you can seek emergency dental work.
- Swap the dark for the light. Darker coloured drinks such as rum and coke are the worst offenders when it comes to damage and erosion to the teeth as they have the lowest pH so are more acidic. You will delighted to know that lighter coloured drinks such as Champagne and Prosecco are better options for your teeth as they have a slightly higher pH value so will cause less damage. Cheers!
- Suss out the sinful soft drinks. It is not just the excess alcoholic drinks that can be harmful to your teeth, be mindful of the soft drinks that you are consuming too. If you are drinking a spirit and mixer, opting for a fruit juice over a fizzy mixer will be slightly kinder to your teeth. If you are drinking fizzy drinks, drink them through a straw to minimize the sugar contact with your teeth which can lead to dental issues. Also, chew sugar-free chewing gum after drinks to help neutralize the acid in your mouth that damages your teeth.
- The proof is in the pudding. Mince pies, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding are full of dried fruit which is very high in sugar and also sticks to and in between the teeth. Make sure you floss after eating to dislodge any food residue and perhaps opt for the cheese board for pudding instead. Cheese helps to return the mouth to its natural acid balance and helps reduce the chances of developing tooth decay.
- Be aware of the snack attack. With endless friends and family visits you are always around nibbles and snacks, but snacking in between meals is bad for your teeth as it increases the contact that food has with your teeth so can cause plaque to develop which leads to cavities. If you need to have a snack then try to stick to crudités as the raw vegetables help to clean your teeth naturally, or some unsalted nuts as they are full of calcium and vitamin D which help to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
- Cut back on the biting. Toffees and hard candies are out in full force at Christmas and they can pull out fillings as well as getting stuck between your teeth. These aren’t easily rinsed away so the sugars in them have longer to wear down your enamel. Instead of the sticky candies and toffees why not opt for some softer, melt-in-the-mouth treats instead such as caramel cups or pralines.
- Fluoride is your friend. Brushing your teeth regularly is key to keeping your teeth and gums healthy but if this isn’t possible then why not take a fluoride mouthwash in your bag so you can rinse after meals when brushing isn’t an option.
- Treat your teeth. It is inevitable that your teeth will be overwhelmed with rich treats over the festive season but hopefully these tips will keep damage to the minimum. As it is the season for giving, why not treat your teeth to a hygienist appointment for a routine clean to make sure your efforts on keeping your teeth healthy do not go wasted?
For more health tips, pick up the latest copy of Yours