As we think about our health and consider all aspects of our wellbeing, we often let our oral health slide. But not always on a deep enough level.
For example, bacteria in our mouth feeds off sugar and liquids to produce acids that damage our tooth enamel. We know that sugar is not healthy for many reasons, but we’re all a little guilty of falling for treats and drinks during the holiday season. And that’s okay...in moderation, in combination with a good oral hygiene routine.
Worrying about your oral health and avoiding sweets altogether, as everyone else around you munches away on white chocolate raspberry cheesecake, is a challenge (we’ll admit it). However, there are other ways of keeping your teeth strong and in good shape, all the while enjoying the festive season with family and friends.
Here are some of the best dentist tips to help you look after your teeth during the holidays:
Avoid soft drinks
It goes without saying that avoiding sugary or acidic drinks, especially before going to bed, is key. In fact, brushing right after eating fruit or drinking any acidic drinks, including sugar-free soft drinks and energy drinks, may cause more damage. To combat this, chew sugar-free gum will encourage saliva production and neutralise the acidity.
To top it all off, drink plenty of water instead, and encourage your children to get on the bandwagon as well.
Choose sweets that are quick to consume
By rule of thumb, dark chocolate contains less sugar than lollipops, caramels and candies. Popping one of those things in your mouth means there’s no lengthy time needed to clear it all in one go: the longer sugar remains in your mouth, the more significant the risk of damage.
Sweet treats with less sugar are a better choice
Not everyone likes dark chocolate, but there are other many guilt-free snacks that contain very little sugar. Many of them require little or no preparation, and they’re often surprisingly delicious. Our best dentist tip here is to opt for gingerbread (traditional recipes contain more honey and less sugar), nuts, raw veggies and crisp fruit – like apples, or pitted dates – filled with almond butter and mixed with cocoa.
Including quality spices when baking your cakes adds a lot of flavour and reduces the need for adding sugar. Think vanilla beans, Ceylon cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and star anise. It smells like Christmas already.
Additionally, spices are said to have some health benefits. They’ve been used in traditional medicines and many cuisines for a reason.
According to a well-recognised study conducted by General Dentistry, eating cheese is said to help protect teeth against cavities.
The study shows that people who consumed cheese showed a rapid increase in pH levels, helping maintain or improve the mouth’s healthy acidity level and preventing cavities.
Don’t slack off on your oral routine
Brush your teeth after every meal or snack, especially after eating sweets that are chewy or sticky. Make sure that your children do, too. You can keep a toothbrush and toothpaste in your purse or your car, but if that’s not an option, opt to swish water until you can get your hands on a toothbrush.
In actual fact, many people don’t brush their teeth at all, or if they do, they aren’t sure about a proper technique. There’s a lot of misinformation on the net about oral health and dental care, from “flossing is a waste of time” to “strawberries whiten your teeth”. If you find it confusing, make sure that you use only credible sources of information or better still, talk to your family dentist.
Brush your tongue
Many toothbrushes contain a tongue scraper. Using it gently helps remove bacterial coating that develops on the surface area. It may also make your mouth feel cleaner and reduce bad breath overall – win, win.
Oral health is not just about a beautiful smile. In fact, research shows that the same gum bacteria that causes dental plaque can get into your bloodstream and increase the risk of heart attacks, heart disease and Alzheimer's. It can intrude in parts of our immune system and weaken its ability to fight many illnesses, including cancer.
Follow our tips and schedule regular visits to your dentist to prevent and treat any problem, before it leads to potentially serious issues. Most importantly, look after your general wellbeing, enjoy your stress-free holiday and keep your smile happy and healthy.