The Christmas season has officially hit, which means it’s prime time for endless eating, drinking and kicking back with your loved ones. But even though it’s time to relax, it doesn’t mean you should relax your standards for taking care of your oral health!
Quite the opposite, it’s important to take extra care as this time of the year is notorious for the endless amount of chocolate, lollies and desserts that make Christmas, well, Christmas. Many of the treats we enjoy are filled with sugar, which is one of the major causes of tooth decay and cavities. Not only this, but we also seem to take more risks that can lead to us breaking our teeth, which means a dental emergency – not the greatest gift during the holidays!
Here are our best tips from our Gold Coast dentists to help prevent tooth decay and dental injuries at Christmas so you can make the most of your time with your favourite people.
- Choose your sugars wisely
- Eating intervals
- Best food and drink choices for teeth
- Toothbrush timing
- Teeth aren’t tools
- Christmas contact sports
1. Choose your sugars wisely
Although Christmas is one of the best times to indulge your sweet tooth, some choices are definitely better than others when it comes to protecting your teeth from decay. Rather than going nuts with all the desserts like Christmas pudding, trifle, pavlova and fruit mince pies, consider making one dessert and serving it with a big fruit and cheese platter.
All types of sugar can damage the teeth, but fresh fruits are at least full of nutrients and will satisfy your hunger more than sweet treats, and won’t stick to your teeth like lollies or the dried fruit in Christmas pudding. These types of sweets stay in the mouth for an extended time, where the bacteria in the mouth feed off them to produce acids that wear down the enamel on your teeth and cause tooth decay.
Also be careful when biting down on hard lollies like candy canes, as well as nuts, toffee, fruit mince pies and pork crackling. These foods can easily chip or crack your teeth, which can cause a lot of pain. Where possible, it’s safer to let the food dissolve in your mouth instead, although this is still not ideal as it increases the amount of time that the sugar has contact with your teeth and causes erosion. This is why it’s best to reduce your sugar intake in general.
2. Eating intervals
As much as it is a Christmas tradition to be grazing from the start of the day til the end, constantly eating causes more damage to your teeth. This is because the longer there is food sitting in the mouth, the more time our oral bacteria has to feed on this and erode the tooth enamel.
Instead of having a table full of food set up for the entire day, have the food offered up for certain periods whether it’s a formal sit down meal or a self-serve style. This also helps reduce overeating in addition to unnecessary erosion to your teeth.
Also try to eat sugary foods with meals, as you produce more saliva during these times which will help wash away the sugars and plaque.
If you’re going to be drinking alcohol, be mindful that red wine stains your teeth. Reduce teeth staining by sticking to white wine instead, as well as rinsing with water between glasses.
Some other alcohol related tips to keep in mind:
- Sparkling wine has a high amount of sugar which can rot your teeth over time. You can minimise the risk by adding ice to your sugary drinks, as it will dilute the drink and reduce the amount of acid due to the cold temperature
- Drink through a straw to limit the contact of your drink with your teeth
- Alcohol dehydrates, so chew sugar-free gum and drink more water to stimulate saliva production, which cleans teeth and neutralise acids
Want an excuse to make a killer cheese platter on Christmas? Matching your wine with cheese helps protect your teeth and gums as it balances out the acids in your teeth and reduces tooth decay.
Crunchy vegetables such as broccoli and carrots also help clean the teeth, produce saliva and contain Vitamin A.
4. Toothbrush timing
Not only is brushing your teeth important, but when you do it also key to maintaining optimal oral health! Brush your teeth around 30 minutes before drinking to remove plaque buildup, which red wine staining pigments can stick to.
After eating or drinking anything high in sugar or acidic, wait at least 30 minutes to an hour to brush your teeth again. The acid will weaken your enamel, which takes time to strengthen and repair itself. Brushing during this time can wear away the enamel while it’s still softened.
5. Teeth aren’t tools
When you’re in Christmas mode, you may be tempted to tear open packaging or sticky tape with your teeth if you don’t have a pair of scissors nearby while wrapping presents or cooking. Even worse is attempting to open a bottle top or crack nuts with your teeth. Avoid using your teeth at all costs, as the last thing you want at Christmas is a broken tooth, or damaged veneers, crowns or dentures, which can be extremely painful and expensive, as well as stressful if you have to book an emergency dental appointment while on holidays!
6. Christmas contact sports
One of the best parts of having everyone together for Christmas is being able to enjoy group activities outside, like playing games and sports. If your kids will be kicking around the football or playing any other contact sports, their teeth, gums and jaw can be at risk of injury. To minimise the chance of being injured or getting a tooth knocked out, it’s best to get a custom mouthguard from your dentist.
After the crazy Christmas period is over and done with and you’ve had a chance to get back into your routine, book a check up and clean with one of our Gold Coast dentists to make sure your teeth are in their best shape after indulging and start the new year with a healthy smile!
Book an appointment online or give our friendly team a call: