Over the festive season, even the most disciplined of us indulge in sweet treats and rich foods, but did you know that these foods can wreak havoc with your oral health? With just a few weeks to go until the big day, looking after your oral health is likely to be very low on your to-do lists. But, with so many potential risks to your smile this festive season, it’s so much more important than you might think. Obviously, you should be having regular check-ups with your orthodontist as well as a dentist to make sure that your teeth are healthy.
Whilst no one is going to judge you for taking part in some indulgence during the festive season, there are some really easy ways that you can limit the impact on your dental health and make sure that you’re keeping your smile safe this Christmas, without the need for a last-minute and emergency dental appointment! With that in mind, here are some top tips for looking after your teeth this Christmas.
Caution When Wrapping Gifts
We’ve all left wrapping our Christmas gifts until the very last minute, some of us even leaving it until Christmas Eve! If you’re one for wrapping gifts, then you’ve probably used your teeth to rip sticky tape when you’re in a rush. But, did you know that using your teeth to cut sticky tape is a sure way to cause damage to your teeth? Ripping sticky tape puts pressure on the edges of your teeth, which can be naturally weak, and this then makes it easier for them to weaken further, or potentially crack. Instead of using your teeth to tear tape, use a tape dispenser or scissors instead.
Moderation Is Key
Chocolates, mince pies, mulled wine, candy canes – all common sweet treats that we enjoy over the festive season. Although they taste great, they usually have very high sugar content. Whilst you don’t need to compromise completely on what you eat and drink over Christmas, the main issue with these types of food is not the sugar content, but instead how often you snack.
The issue comes from putting sugar into contact with your teeth more times a day than normal, so try to reduce the number of times you consume sweet treats throughout the day, as this creates the perfect environment for plaque to grow. When you eat sweet treats, try to limit the times to after mealtimes, as opposed to throughout the day, as this can help to reduce the damage it can cause to your teeth.
Watch The Alcoholic Drinks
At Christmas, we all enjoy a glass of wine or two, especially when catching up with friends and family. But, alcohol can be one of the biggest contributors to tooth damage and decay. White wine, in particular, can be very acidic and contributes to enamel erosion, whilst red wine can stain teeth.
At Christmas, a celebration isn’t complete without a glass of fizz, but prosecco is one of the drinks that can cause the most dental damage. Packed full of sugar, alcohol and acid, prosecco sits on the surface of your teeth, which then causes irreversible damage to your tooth’s enamel. There’s a common phenomenon called ‘prosecco smile’, which can cause your teeth to recede slightly away from your gumline, that frequent prosecco drinkers show signs of. To avoid this, enjoy prosecco in moderation and, if you can, sip through a straw to limit the risk of erosion.
There’s nothing better than a warming glass of mulled wine when the weather outside is cold, but this festive staple can take its toll on your teeth. Red wine is already damaging to your teeth, and mulled wine contains higher levels of sugar and acid, meaning that it can erode your enamel and weaken your teeth. Dark wines, such as mulled wine, contain tannings, which make the surface of your teeth more porous, therefore more susceptible to heavy staining.
When you’re drinking alcohol this festive season, keep a cheeseboard nearby, as cheese can help counteract the acids that build up on your teeth after consuming alcohol. Avoid brushing your teeth straight after drinking, as this only moves the harmful acids around your mouth, leaving them to develop for longer.
Don’t Use Your Teeth As Tools
Your teeth shouldn’t be used for jobs that they are not designed for. This includes bottle openers and nutcrackers! You might be surprised, but a large majority of emergency dental appointments made over the festive season are due to cracks, chips and breakages caused by people using their teeth as tools.
Cracking nuts with your teeth is always going to be a terrible idea, but there are still people who believe that it’s a quick and easy way to crack nuts open at the Christmas dinner table. The damage you can cause to your teeth can be both very extreme and expensive, with some people even shattering their back molars as a result. Leave your teeth to eating the nuts and a nutcracker to opening them!
As you shouldn’t crack nuts with your teeth, opening bottles using your teeth is also a bad idea, but still, one that many people find themselves doing anyway as a party trick once they’ve had a drink or two! Opening bottles with your teeth have the potential to cause serious and harmful dental damage to your teeth and gums, so you should avoid doing this at all costs. There are usually plenty of bottle openers around at Christmas parties, so use those instead to avoid costly emergency dental visits!
With all the festive indulgences, it is easy to neglect your dental and oral health over Christmas. Ensure that you keep up with your daily hygiene routines, such as brushing twice a day, flossing and using mouthwash, and make an appointment with your dentist in Warrington in the New Year for a checkup if you’re due one!