Christmas is such an exciting and special time of year for many. Christmas carols begin to play, there is usually endless amounts of delicious food on offer and you are finally able to relax and wind down with family and friends after a busy year.
The last thing you need is to break a tooth and need emergency dental care over this precious time.
The festive season will provide you with the perfect opportunity to indulge, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect your oral health.
Our tips to avoid dental problems and maintain healthy teeth and gums over Christmas:
Set a time limit: It’s can be tempting to graze all day during the Christmas season – delicious food is all around us. But eating all day puts our teeth more at risk of decay as it leaves food for bacteria in our mouth for longer periods of time which can eventually leads to decay and toothache. Set up specific times of the day to set the table for people to eat. These can be sit-down meals or buffet style, but it’s important that there is a definite beginning and ending to eating times. This helps keep everyone from constantly reaching for food that’s high in sugars.
Focus on meaningful events rather than food: We often base our social and family events on food, but this is bad for our teeth, waistline, and health. To take the focus off food, set up activities like board and card games, craft projects, or holiday movie marathons.
Be careful with hard lollies: Hard lollies can crack your teeth and fillings if you bite down on them in the wrong way. If you can’t avoid them, instead of biting, let them dissolve in your mouth. Also, be certain to rinse with water and brush your teeth after eating sugary foods of any kind, and only eat them in moderation, if at all.
Other hard foods, such as, candy canes, nuts and toffees can also wreak havoc on our teeth. If you crave a Christmas treat, opt for softer varieties. You’ll be surprised by how many visits we get from people who chip their teeth after chewing into hard foods, especially that delicious pork crackle!
Avoid chewing on ice for the same reason. As sizzling as our Australian summers are, this cooling down method could fracture teeth and ruin your healthy Christmas.
Enjoy in moderation! – Don’t be a sugar addict: At the risk of sounding like the Grinch, go easy on the sugar. You can still get into the spirit and enjoy your favourite treats, but don’t go overboard.
Many dental problems stem from a build up of sugar, which causes bad bacteria to thrive.
You don’t have to resort to all sugar-free Christmas desserts (although you can find delicious recipes on healthy eating websites). If you indulge in sugary food, avoid frequent snacking. It’s best to consume sweets during meal times, as your mouth will produce more saliva to neutralise excess sugar.
You can also rinse your mouth after eating, to wash away stubborn food particles.
Be strategic about consuming acidic foods and drinks: What do lemons, red wine, orange juice, soft drinks, pickles and tomatoes have in common? They’re examples of acidic products that can weaken your tooth enamel, if you’re not careful.
It’s a good idea to use a straw when drinking acidic beverages, to guard your teeth. Drinking water after these beverages can also help to wash away bacteria, by neutralising acids in your mouth. Chewing on sugar-free gum is another way to do this!
Don’t brush your teeth straight after consuming acidic products – wait at least 30 minutes. This way, you avoid brushing the acid-weakened enamel away and guard against serious dental problems.
If you enjoy cranberries or cheese, especially around Christmas, we have good news. These are some of the best foods for healthy teeth and gums. Fresh cranberries are acidic (eat in moderation), but they contain beneficial compounds. Remember that dry cranberries (and other dried fruits) are very high in sugar.
Cheese is great at reducing the acid levels in your mouth after eating, helping protect your teeth. And it tastes great too!
Brush and floss your teeth regularly to stay on top of your oral hygiene: We enjoy less responsibility in many facets of our lives over the silly season, but dental hygiene must never join that list. If anything, this is one area demanding extra diligence, in the face of the food onslaught coming your way.
Don’t take a break from brushing your teeth, even for a single day. You should brush twice a day and floss at least once. You could even add an extra brushing session during the day, if you’ve really gone to town on the gingerbread.
If it isn’t possible to whip out your toothbrush after a heavy meal, at least rinse your mouth with water. This will remove excess sugar from your teeth.
If brushing your teeth feels like a chore, you might want to buy an electric toothbrush, which delivers powerful cleaning and could also be a great gift idea. It also helps to boost children’s oral health, by adding a touch of novelty to the routine. You could try to sing carols while you clean! Tooth brushing should last at least two to three minutes for optimal effect. One way to pass the time is to hum a few verses and choruses of your favourite Christmas carol while you brush, you’ll likely brush long enough to clean up your teeth and gums.
Go easy on the alcohol and avoid cigarettes: By all means, enjoy a drink or two, but don’t get carried away, since excess alcohol increases the risk of gum disease. Alcoholic drinks are typically very high in sugar, can dehydrate your oral cells, which gives carcinogens more freedom to wreak havoc. Smoking also dries out your mouth and a leading cause of oral cancer.
It is important to take care of your oral health no matter the time of year.
The team at Nina Bambino Dental wish you a happy, healthy and safe festive season….
Our practice will close from 1:00pm on Friday 21st December 2018 until 8.30am Wednesday 2nd January 2019.
There is emergency contacts available to reach our team during this closure period. Please phone the practice on 07 3366 4298 and follow the prompts on the message bank for details of how you can reach us in the event of any unfortunate dental emergencies during this time!