Christmas is a time of over-indulging, spending time your nearest and dearest and enjoying the festivities. It's no surprise that your oral health may not be on your priority list during the festive season. However, Catherine Rutland, Clinical Director at Simplyhealth, has a few easy tips to make sure they stay in the best possible condition.
- Eat treats in one sitting.
- Teeth and tape don't mix. Scissors are your tool of choice.
- Turkey in your teeth? Bring in the dental floss.
- Be wary of the toffee.
- Counter the effects of Prosecco with water.
- Always remember to brush.
Reduce grazing throughout the day
With so many delicious treats at your fingertips, it's easy to find yourself almost continuously grazing over the festive period. However, this constant exposure to sugar throughout the day can contribute to tooth decay. "It's far better if you polish off your chocolate coins in one go, or as part of a meal, rather than grazing on them throughout the day," says Catherine. "Every time we have something sugary, bacteria in our mouths produce acids that can cause tooth decay. If you're continually snacking, your teeth will be under constant attack. Most people think it's the volume of sugar you eat that damages your teeth, but it's how often you eat it that is the issue."
Don't use teeth as tools
We've all been there; it's Christmas Eve, and you've left wrapping presents to the last minute. You're hastily trying to keep the roll of paper steady with one hand while frantically ripping off strips of sticky tape with your teeth. However, this is a potential tooth-hazard waiting to happen says Catherine: "You put enormous pressure on the edges of your teeth when you tear sticky tape, and it's an easy way to crack or weaken teeth, or even dislodge a crown or veneer," she says.
Another culprit is cracking nuts with your teeth. "Believe it or not, dentists do see patients who thought they'd have a go at cracking a nut open with their teeth, only to shatter a molar in the process," says Catherine. "Nutshells are incredibly hard, and teeth are a completely inappropriate tool to open them with. Always use nutcrackers."
Just as with using your teeth to crack nuts, never open bottles with your teeth. "Opening bottles with your teeth may seem like a harmless idea, but it can cause serious dental damage," says Catherine. "Always have bottle openers close by so that no one's tempted to resort to using their teeth."
Turkey in your teeth?
Nothing is more annoying than being unable to reach something stuck in your teeth. Using something other than proper dental floss or interdental brushes could be damaging. "Poking at your teeth and gums with sharp improvised tools can cause bleeding and tooth injuries," advises Catherine. "Try to gently work trapped food loose with dental floss or interdental brushes. It can also be helpful to try and soften the object by swishing warm water around your mouth. If you can't dislodge it and it's starting to cause you pain, speak to your dentist as soon as you can."
Christmas chocolate selection boxes often come with the ever-popular, but very sticky toffee sweets. Toffees are a hazard waiting to happen if you have any dental restoration. "Toffees have the power to pull off dental restorations such as fillings, crowns, bridges, or veneers," says Catherine. "Try chocolates that melt and leave the mouth quickly to limit any dental damage."
Popping open the bubbly
Christmas wouldn't be complete without a sparkling bubbly drink (or two), but it packs a punch on your oral health. Did you know that Prosecco is one of the most dentally-damaging drinks if drunk frequently? "The acid, sugar and alcohol levels in Prosecco can damage your teeth if consumed regularly," says Catherine. "Enjoy in moderation and make sure you limit the erosive effects on your tooth enamel by drinking plenty of water in between glasses."
While blenders are ideal for crushing the ice in your Christmas cocktails, your teeth are not. "Chewing on ice could damage healthy tooth enamel and could break teeth – especially if you have any fillings, crowns, or bridges," says Catherine. "For those with sensitive teeth, the cold can also worsen dental pain."
Forgetting to brush
Christmas is a busy time for us all, but brushing your teeth should not be forgotten. "If you get into the habit of not brushing regularly over the whole festive period, you could put your teeth and gums at increased risk of developing problems. Aim to brush for two minutes, twice a day. It can be helpful to brush your teeth as soon as you wake up - before you do anything else - to avoid forgetting."
With the festive season now in full swing, it’s time to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year. Remember to give your oral health a little love and attention, which is all your teeth want for Christmas. From everyone at Denplan, have a very merry Christmas!