Don’t let your teeth and gums suffer during the holiday season.
Like our own team, we are sure that most of our Ipswich dental patients are looking forward to the forthcoming festivities. It is a time to relax and enjoy time spent with friends and family.
In many ways it is a carefree time, but one that can pose problems for the health of our teeth and gums if we are not careful. This does not mean that you have to be a ‘killjoy’ to protect your teeth, but simply observing a few basic rules can make all the difference for your oral health at this time of the year.
Your festive diet
There is no need to deny yourself the pleasures of Christmas food, but there is a case to be made for keeping an eye on what you eat at this time of the year. As long as we take care to clean our teeth well, they should be capable of withstanding harm from a few indulgent luxuries. That said, we can also help by perhaps not over indulging too much.
It is often not the food that we consume at mealtimes that is the problem. It is usually the bowl of sweets and chocolates that we can conveniently dip our hands into throughout the day. This continual ‘grazing’ means that our teeth are in almost constant contact with sugars throughout the day, and not leaving a break means that the enamel on our teeth doesn’t get the chance to remineralise properly, making it more vulnerable to decay and damage. Try to give your teeth a bit of a break between eating where you can, and perhaps alternate chocolates etc with more tooth friendly foods.
Take care too when eating foods such as Christmas puddings. These are generally soft, but some may also contain nuts. If you are expecting a ‘soft chew’ and your teeth come into contact with a particularly hard ingredient, it could cause the tooth to crack or break, especially if it has already been weakened through having a large filling or root canal treatment in the past. It is probably no longer relevant as this is now a bit of an old fashioned custom, but it should go without saying, that putting a coin in the pudding is a bad idea too!
We have discussed before, in our Foxhall Dental Practice blogs, the dangers associated with excessive alcohol consumption. This is likely to rise over the festive period, and often with people who don’t drink much the rest of the year. Alcohol is one of the contributing factors towards oral cancers, although a brief period of this is unlikely to cause any significant harm. Several days of drinking too much though, may well create conditions that help symptoms of gum disease present themselves. One of the downsides of alcohol is that it dehydrates us. This can often result in a dry mouth whilst we sleep, providing the perfect warm and dry environment so loved by the bacteria that cause gingivitis and periodontitis.
We are not saying that you shouldn’t drink, but try to keep it moderate. Accidents are also more likely under the influence of alcohol, and broken or even knocked out teeth are probably more likely at this time of the year. Try to alternate your alcoholic drinks with soft drinks, and water. Drinking water will also help to flush away some of the sugars that most alcoholic drinks contain.
Finally, a word of warning that we hope will not be necessary. Please do remember that our teeth are not made for opening bottles. Trying to impress friends with this old ‘party trick’ is not only very likely to break your teeth, but may also result in a visit to the A&E with facial lacerations.
Bring out the cheeseboard
Keeping your teeth healthy at Christmas isn’t all about denial. Some foods are actually beneficial for your teeth and a case in point is cheese! This is not only a good source of calcium, but also helps to neutralise the acid environment found in our mouth when we eat. This can be harmful to the enamel of our teeth and eating cheese at the end of the meal is a great way to rebalance, as well as being very enjoyable. Why not treat your family to a selection of cheeses this Christmas time.
And finally …
Christmas can be great fun, but it can also be very tiring, especially if you have spent all day cooking and entertaining the children. With the likelihood that you will have eaten more than your normal quantity of sugar, it is particularly important that you take time to both brush and floss your teeth well before going to bed. However tired you, or your children are, do make sure to make an effort to do this. Your teeth will thank you for it!
From all at the Foxhall Dental Practice, we wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year and hope that you are dental problem free over the holidays. In the event of a severe toothache or damaged tooth that needs treating promptly, please call our Ipswich practice as normal. If we are closed when you do this, you will hear a recorded message explaining what steps to take next. You can call us on our usual number, which is 01473 258396.