[UPDATED 2019] It’s that time of year again. Put up your feet and enjoy a healthy Christmas with no dental problems by following these tips…
The carols are playing, there’s plenty of delicious food and you’re finally relaxing with family and friends.
What could be better?
The last thing you want is to chip your tooth and need emergency dental care over Christmas!
The festive season provides the perfect opportunity to indulge, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect your oral health.
Five Tips to avoid dental problems and maintain healthy teeth and gums:
1. Brush and floss your teeth regularly to stay on top of your oral hygiene
We enjoy less responsibility in many facets of our lives over the silly season, but dental hygiene must never join that list. If anything, this is one area demanding extra diligence, in the face of the food onslaught coming your way.
Don’t take a break from brushing your teeth, even for a single day. You should brush twice a day and floss at least once. You could even add an extra brushing session during the day, if you’ve really gone to town on the gingerbread.
If it isn’t possible to whip out your toothbrush after a heavy meal, at least rinse your mouth with water. This will remove excess sugar from your teeth.
If brushing your teeth feels like a chore, you might want to buy an electric toothbrush, which delivers powerful cleaning. It also helps to boost children’s oral health, by adding a touch of novelty to the routine.
2. Don’t be a sugar addict – enjoy in moderation!
At the risk of sounding like the Grinch, go easy on the sugar. You should still get into the spirit and enjoy your favourite treats, but don’t go overboard.
Many dental problems stem from a build up of sugar, which causes bad bacteria to thrive.
You don’t have to resort to sugar-free Christmas desserts (although you can find delicious recipes on healthy eating websites). If you indulge in sugary food, avoid frequent snacking. It’s best to consume sweets during meal times, as your mouth will produce more saliva to neutralise excess sugar.
You can also rinse your mouth after eating, to wash away stubborn food particles.
3. Don’t chew hard foods that have the consistency of cement…
Candy canes, nuts, toffees, mince pies, dried fruit and more. There’s no escaping the temptation of hard foods that wreak havoc on our teeth.
If you crave a Christmas treat, opt for softer varieties. You’ll be surprised by how many visits we get from people who chip their teeth after chewing into hard foods!
If that Christmas brittle is calling your name, go ahead, but approach with caution and take small bites!
On a similar note, don’t use your teeth as a tool to open beer bottles or other objects. This can cause a lot of damage, and you may even chip or lose your tooth.
Avoid chewing on ice for the same reason. As sizzling as Australian summers are, this cooling down method could fracture teeth and ruin your healthy Christmas. If you lose a tooth, gently place it back in its socket or store it in a glass of milk until you can see the dentist
4. Be strategic about consuming acidic foods and drinks
What do lemons, red wine, orange juice, soda, pickles and tomatoes have in common? They’re examples of acidic products that can weaken your tooth enamel, if you’re not careful.
It’s a good idea to use a straw when drinking acidic beverages, to guard your teeth. Drinking water can also help to wash away bacteria, by neutralising acids in your mouth. Chewing on sugar-free gum is another way to do this!
Don’t brush your teeth straight after consuming acidic products – wait at least 30 minutes. This way, you avoid brushing the acid-weakened enamel away and guard against serious dental problems.
If you enjoy cranberries or cheese, especially around Christmas, we have good news. These are some of the best foods for healthy teeth and gums. Cranberries are acidic (eat in moderation), but they contain beneficial compounds.
Our mouths love soft cheeses, which help to restore acid balance and keep tooth decay at bay.
“Cheese is great at reducing the acid levels in your mouth after eating, helping protect your teeth. And it tastes great too! Aside from this, try to avoid overeating including foods that you normally wouldn’t eat. Especially harder foods such as toffees or pork scratching. Each year, we see many patients that have broken their teeth whilst eating all sorts of unusual foods over the festive season.” – Guardian Life
Who knew a healthy Christmas could taste so delicious? Here are more food ideas to include in your festivities:
- Carrots (perfect with dips)
- Leafy greens
- Sourdough bread
5. Go easy on the alcohol and avoid cigarettes
By all means, enjoy a drink or two, but don’t get carried away, since excess alcohol increases the risk of gum disease. This is a common dental problem for people over 60.
Alcohol dehydrates your oral cells, which gives carcinogens more freedom to wreak havoc. Smoking also drys out your mouth and it’s a leading cause of oral cancer.
It’s never been more important to stay on top of your oral health:
“The number of Australian children with cavities also reached alarming rates, with 48% of five-year-olds and 68% of nine-year-olds presenting with decay. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare also reported more than half of all six-year-olds had some decay in their baby and adult teeth.” – Daily Mail Australia
Research shows there’s a strong link between diet and cavities. Alarmingly, high numbers of Australian children are being treated for rotting teeth. Children’s oral health should never be compromised, and neither should yours, no matter the time of year.
As a nation, we can do better than this. Make the most of this festive season, but look after yourself too.
The team at Mona Vale Dental hope you have a happy and healthy Christmas. We close from the 31st of December until the 2nd of January, and look forward to working with you in the new year!