Spoiler: eat cheese!
By Jenny Cook
It’s not just our waistlines that could be suffering the effects of festive over-indulgence this Christmas. What with all the sugary food, alcoholic drinks and late nights, our oral health is likely to take a hit, too – but there are some simple steps you can take to keep damage to a minimum.
Here, Dr Mihir Shah, Head Dentist at Battersea Park Dental and supporter of DenTek’s #TeethTalk campaign, gives some great advice on how we can maintain healthy teeth and gums throughout the party season…
- Be mindful of the ‘prosecco smile’
It’s safe to say the UK’s obsession with prosecco has peaked, with sales set to rise by 500% this Christmas. But if you love a bit of bubbly, it could be bad news for your teeth – leading to a condition that experts are referring to as ‘the prosecco smile’.
“The more acidic the drink, the worse it will be for your teeth. That, coupled with the high sugar content in alcoholic drinks can be disastrous to your teeth. Where possible, adding ice to your drinks reduces the risk of damage to your teeth as not only does it dilute your drink, it reduces the amount of acid because it’s colder. Drinking through a straw also helps.”
Because of the acidic nature of prosecco, brushing soon after drinking could make things worse. Instead, wait a little while until after you’ve had your last drink before brushing your teeth.
- Keep grazing to a minimum
A mince pie here, some chocolate there… It’s easy to let your meals spread out into day-long feeds at this time of year, but keeping grazing to a minimum will give your teeth time to recover between meals.
“It is not the amount, but the frequency of sugar in your diet that cause tooth decay. Spreading your sugary treats throughout the day might seem sensible, but is worse for your teeth as you are exposing them to a ‘sugar attack’ multiple times.”
- Stick to a routine
Late-night parties, back-to-back hangovers and weekends away can really disrupt your oral health routine (because, let’s face it, mouthwash and flossing is the last thing on your mind at 3am after a big night out). But, as with most things, maintaining a routine is important.
“Be sure you are disciplined with your cleaning regime. Brush twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste and don’t forget to floss! Wait at least 20 minutes after your last snack or glass of wine before brushing your teeth. Our mouths need this time to recover as they get more acidic whilst eating and drinking.”
DenTek recommend using their Whitening Silky Floss Picks (£6.00 from Boots) for a complete oral hygiene routine. On top of this, using a fluoride mouthwash at least once during the day is a great way to protect your teeth and helps reverse the early signs of tooth decay.
- Chew sugar-free gum
Not only will chewing gum keep your breath smelling fresh and stop you reaching for the sugary snacks, but it could also help keep your teeth and gums healthy.
“Chewing gum stimulates saliva which helps to reduce the acidity in your mouth and clear debris between your teeth. As a bonus, it also speeds up your metabolism which helps digestion.”
- Finish up with some cheese
Yep, you read that right! Cheese is one of the few festive indulgences that is actually good for your teeth – a good excuse to treat yourself to a nibble (or two… or three) at the end of your evening meal.
“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.”
All being well, your smile should be brighter than ever in time for New Year!