Keeping Your Teeth Healthy At Christmas
And what to do in the case of a dental emergency
No-one can deny that it has been a strange and difficult year, and even our usual looking forward to the festive season takes on a different look with likely restrictions and smaller gatherings for many of us.
Even so, we are sure that many of you will be doing your best to have as good and normal a Christmas as is possible under the circumstances.
Everyone deserves to be able to relax and enjoy themselves, especially this year, and, inevitably, more alcohol and sugar laden foods will be consumed at this time of the year. Keeping this in mind, the team at the Foxhall Dental Practice in Ipswich have put together a few suggestions on how to avoid dental problems over the break.
Monitor your sugar intake
Even if we don’t usually eat too many chocolates and sweets throughout the year, most of us will relax this over the Christmas and New Year period. The chances are that even if we don’t intend to, we will be given chocolates etc as presents and as we already have them, well, why not! The reality though is that sugar is bad news for your teeth and gums and especially if you eat them throughout the day. Eating them in this way supplies an almost constant food supply to the potentially harmful bacteria in our mouths. If you must eat sweets and chocolates, try to leave significant time between them to allow your mouth to recover and for the saliva to wash away some of the sugars.
Watch the alcohol
Aside from the sugar content of some alcoholic drinks, there can also be other problems which stem from drinking alcohol, especially to excess. A common problem is that it can leave us with a dry mouth, and whilst it might be unpleasant to wake up feeling like that, the real problem is that if the mouth has been dry overnight, the number of bacteria that is potentially harmful to our teeth and gums will have multiplied. This is one of the possible causes of gum disease and also explains why older people are more prone to it as they produce less saliva.
The other issue with alcohol consumption of course, is drunkenness. If you become too intoxicated, there is a higher risk of falls and collisions that could result in a broken tooth or two. Our advice is to enjoy yourself but drink in moderation.
Drink plenty of water
The festivities can be tiring, especially for those with young children, and it is quite likely that we will become dehydrated, making us even more tired. Do make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Not only will this make you feel less tired but will also help to wash some of the sugar away from your teeth and gums and reduce the risk of a dry mouth (and possibly a hangover as well).
This might sound like an odd suggestion, but finishing a meal with a small piece of cheese is an excellent way of restoring the PH balance of your mouth, reducing the acidity that is so harmful to the enamel on our teeth. Whether your preference is Stilton or cheddar, just a small amount will go a long way to keeping the enamel on your teeth strong and healthy.
Quite a few of us will probably break our own ‘rules’ at Christmas; after all, it is just once a year. One of the worst aspects of this can be when the cigars are brought out or you are offered a cigarette. Especially if you are an ex smoker, this might be really tempting, after all, it is just one … isn’t it? The reality though is that just one cigarette can become a case of ‘ok .. just today’ .. or ‘I’ll stop again after Christmas’. Sadly, this is often not the case and is a common route to starting to smoke again. Gum disease and oral cancers are significantly more common in smokers than non smokers so we suggest resisting the temptation and just say no.
Brush your teeth well
However good we are at brushing our teeth regularly, Christmas and New Year can bring its challenges. At the end of a very long day of cooking, opening presents and entertaining, there is every chance that all we will want to do is fall into bed to sleep. Missing brushing our teeth just once may not seem that harmful, but especially as they are likely to be coated with sugar after all the chocolates etc we have eaten, this is definitely not a good idea.
However tired you feel at the end of the day, muster the energy to brush your teeth well and floss as well if you can. Your teeth and gums will thank you for it.
What to do in a dental emergency?
Naturally, we hope that all of our Ipswich patients have a great Christmas and New Year and get through it with no dental issues at all. In the event that you do have a problem that needs treating urgently, you should call our usual phone number (01473 258396) and, if we are closed on that day, you will hear a recorded message telling you what to do next.
Like the rest of you, we are looking forward to our Christmas break and are hoping for a better 2021 too. We hope that you all have a great time and wish a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year from all at Foxhall Dental Practice!