News & blogs Blogs and vlogs Keeping a healthy smile – the best gift you can give yourself this Christmas 9 December 2019 The festive season is well and truly upon us. This probably means you’re preparing to throw yourself into the many traditions and routines you have this time of year with loved ones, friends and colleagues. Eating and drinking plays a big role in the social calendar and Christmas is no exception. Filling food and tasty treats are the norm for many. But while it may be easy to over-indulge during this time of year, just take a moment to think about the impact this can have on our oral health. Our teeth are really suspectable to damage and wear during the holidays. This is not only down to our choice of food and drink, but how much and how often we are having it. Our oral health also tends to slip down the priority list and might means we care for it a little less than usual. To keep our teeth fighting fit heading into the new year, we have put together five top tips for maintaining oral health during the festive period. By following these simple rules, you can keep a healthy smile, which is the best gift you can give yourself this Christmas. Take snacking on sugar off the table Whether it’s a selection box, giant Toblerone or another slice of Christmas cake, snacking on sugar is one of our biggest problems during Christmas. It means our mouth is constantly exposed to acid attacks and does not have chance to recover. Eating too much sugar too often leads to tooth decay, the leading cause of tooth loss. It might even leave us with a nasty toothache. The best thing to do is keep sugar consumption to mealtimes. It means we can still enjoy our favourite treats while reducing the number of times during the day that our teeth are vulnerable to sugar. Still feeling peckish? Try sugar-free or low-in-sugar alternatives. Cheese and nuts are fantastic festive snacks that won’t torment our teeth. Moderate alcohol Tis the season to be jolly, and Christmas classics like mulled wine are frequently consumed alongside beer, white wine, cider and other alcoholic concoctions. Last Christmas, the average Brit consumed 26 units of alcohol a day and more than half the population (52%) admit to drinking more than usual throughout the holiday. Most alcohol is packed full of sugar and can be extremely acidic. When consumed in bulk, this will cause erosion of the tooth enamel, leading to pain and sensitivity. We are also far more likely to forget to brush our teeth after drinking heavily – leaving the sugar and acid to bubble away in our mouth all night – another disaster for our oral health. Keeping our drinking in moderation, alongside having some alcohol-free days over the winter break will not only do our oral health the world of good, but also our overall bodily healthiness. Maintain a normal oral health routine We all have jam-packed diaries in the build-up to the big day. Christmas is the time for socialising with family and friends, but even so, this isn’t an excuse for us to slack-off when it comes to our daily routine. It doesn’t matter whether we are out until the early hours celebrating or at home binging on Christmas films – it is important to stick to our normal routine. We can keep a healthy smile by brushing twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste. The best time to do this is last thing at night and at any other time during the day. Cleaning in between our teeth daily using interdental brushes is also really important, as it removes the plaque a toothbrush can’t reach. A dental check-up either before the holidays, or afterwards in the new year can also be a really good idea to catch any problems and make sure they don’t go unnoticed. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water Keeping fully hydrated during the cold months is important for the health of our mouth and our general health too. Be sure to make the right choices when choosing tooth-smart beverages. Water is the best option for our oral health. Drinking water directly after eating has been shown to help remove acids from the mouth, reducing the effects on dental decay and erosion. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water (bottled and tap) that can help to reduce the risk of tooth decay by making tooth enamel more resistant to acid attack. Take advantage of Christmas bargains The holidays are a great chance to pick up a bargain and treat ourselves to something that could really help our smile shine. Whether we are looking to replace our old toothbrush, have an eye on a new air flosser, or change those frayed brush heads, there are plenty of special offers to be had. Taking advantage of these offers will make our daily home routine even better and our oral health something to smile about as we move into 2020. To discuss any oral health questions you may have, our Dental Helpline are on hand to assist you. They can be reached on 01788 539780 between the hours of 9AM and 5PM Monday – Friday.