Though dental care is not at the front of everyone’s mind over the festive season, it’s still very important!
There are many foods we might avoid year-round in the interest of preserving our smiles. But a few repeat offenders pop up in December and stick around until January, and we tend to reach for them because ‘tis the season to be indulgent!
So in the name of dental hygiene, here are some foods you should try to limit over the holidays
Aside from Easter, the December holidays are usually characterised by a big influx of sweet treats. Chocolate, lollies, shortbread, candy canes, gingerbread, wine gums, liquorice, jelly beans and Turkish delight are the all-too-common stocking-stuffers that make up dental nightmares. The sugary residue will stick to teeth young and old, dissolving the enamel and driving rot.
However, these gifts always come with the best of intentions – from work parties, secret Santa arrangements and aunts twice removed – and they are there to be enjoyed. It’s okay to consume a small amount of confectionery over the holidays, just stick to one serving and be reasonable.
Some more tips for sugary treats:
- Try the old ‘out of sight, out of mind’ trick by putting all but one of these sugary gifts at the back of the pantry to avoid grazing. Only snack on the one you have left when already eating a meal. The food will help remove sugary residue from your teeth.
- Avoid candy canes and ‘sucking’ lollies at all costs. If you are going to eat sugary treats, the long-lasting ones are worse. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the amount of sugar that damages your teeth but the amount of time that sugar is in your mouth.
- If you’re buying treats for your own house, aim for 60% cocoa dark chocolate to best protect your family’s dental health.
December can quite literally be hard on our teeth. From snapping the last remnants of candy canes and chewing thick toffee to crunching on pork crackling and snacking on salted nuts – there are countless opportunities to crack a tooth. Other culprits for tooth fracture come from our hot summer holidays spent chewing ice. All of these could lead you to the dentist’s chair come January. There are no tips here – just avoid these foods wherever you can if your teeth are prone to fracture!
Much like sugar, acidic foods and beverages will weaken your tooth enamel significantly. The biggest culprits include:
- Fizzy drinks
- Champagne and prosecco
- Beer and cider
- Fruit juices (especially lemon, cranberry, orange and apple)
- Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons and limes – usually consumed in mixed drinks with spirits)
- Eggnog (the triple threat, containing acidic alcohol, eroding sugar and bacteria-creating dairy!)
Over-consuming any of these will generally weaken your tooth enamel. You can avoid the worst damage by consuming some of those beverages through a straw – though you will get some funny looks!
If you will be excessively consuming acidic foods or beverages over the holidays (we’re looking at you, Christmas Day wine and New Years Eve champagne) it’s important to remember not to brush your teeth straight after. This will further damage your teeth in an already-weakened state. Always wait until a bit later on.
If all else fails and you find yourself giving in, it’s vitally important to keep up your regular dental hygiene routine to mitigate the worst of the damage. Brush your teeth and gums twice a day for at least two minutes, floss daily and head in for a checkup every six months.
We at TLC Dental will be pleased to help!
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from our team to yours.