Saving your teeth during the festive season
Over-indulgence in alcohol, puddings and cakes all take their toll on your belly and your teeth over the festive season.
But, you can avoid giving the plaque a chance to build up – and still enjoy the rest of the holidays!
Remember to follow the basic oral hygiene rules; flossing to remove the plaque from your teeth, brushing twice a day with a soft brush and fluoride toothpaste for the full two minutes, and rinsing with a mouthwash recommended by your dentist.
With the festive season eating, you just need to take extra precautions, especially if you are planning to attend loads of functions.
Festive season oral hygiene
Before the festive season is in full swing, schedule your annual dental check-up for you and your family and ask for the whole works, from the x-rays, the check and fixing of cavities to the cleaning.
This is to avoid a dental emergency over the holidays when your dentist is likely to be on holiday too. Ask for a referral number just in case of emergencies. If you’re travelling, get to know where the emergency dental and medical clinics are in the area.
If there is a dental emergency, never delay treatments. Also, ensure that you have your medical and dental insurance number with you.
If you can’t go before Christmas for your annual dental check-up, schedule an appointment early in the New Year, just to get a head start with your oral hygiene practice and also to scrape away any plaque build-up that might have crept in with all the festive eating and drinking.
According to Smile Concepts Dentistry, this is what you should be doing:
- Try not to eat, drink and be merry and then fall into bed without brushing your teeth. Neglecting dental routines can do long-term damage to your teeth enamel, especially when you’ve had one too many glasses of wine. Alcohol and all that sweet holiday treats feed the harmful bacteria in your mouth, and these are a recipe for teeth erosion.
- Up the amount of teeth brushings to three or four. And drink some water after every meal, mainly if the meal includes a cocktail, a glass of sugary soda, spicy foods and a sweet dessert. The water will flush away harmful acids, sugar and food particles before it gets a chance to build up on the teeth and gums. If you can’t get to brush your teeth, then suck on a piece of cucumber which turns acidic conditions in the body alkaline.
- Floss after meals and try to use an interdental brush at least once a day
- If you’re travelling, try and get a nice new charcoal toothbrush.
- Avoid snacking between meals.
- Chew sugarless chewing gum, preferably with Xylitol. This promotes saliva production, which helps flush the mouth of harmful acids and sugars before burrowing into damage.
- When travelling, pack all the tools that you’re going to need. These are a new toothbrush, floss and toothpaste, a tongue scraper and travel-size bottles of your dentist recommended mouthwash.
- Carry a small pack of floss, a small toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste on the go to clean out the debris and freshen up after those huge festive season meals.
- In case of a dental emergency such as losing a tooth or a filling while out on a hike or a marathon eating session, be sure to pack gauze, some clove oil and pain relievers in your toiletries bag or first aid kit.
Protecting your teeth
- At traditional Christmas parties, use a nut-cracker and not your teeth to crack open the walnuts or chestnuts.
- Avoid hard sweets, handmade toffees and caramels, jelly babies, fruit pastilles, wine gums and glazed fruits. They leave a sugary residue that leads to tooth enamel damage. And you also run the risk of cracking a tooth or losing a filling. Even sour jelly sweets harm because they contain high levels of acid.
- Avoid the staining beverages that contain tannins that stick to your teeth and discolour them. Some are everyday drinks such as; cider, hot chocolate, gourmet coffees, red and white wines, hot or cold teas which leave a sugary residue, while coffee causes bad breath and bacterial overgrowth that impacts the tooth enamel.
- As usual, avoid alcoholic cocktails, fruit juices and sugary carbonated drinks, but if you want to indulge, use a straw to keep the liquid from touching your teeth.
A boost to your oral hygiene routine would be to increase your daily intake of vitamin C as it keeps your gums, health and teeth strong, so does no-added-sugar cranberry juice.
While cloves in any form help with any dental irritation, rinsing with coconut oil for 10 minutes once a day pulls plaque away from your mouth.
The best thing to do in any situation is to consult a dental professional. Do not attempt to do any of your own dental work.
Affinity Dental has different levels of dental insurance cover, depending on your individual needs and budget. Each tier of options covers specific specialist dental work. You decide what you need.
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