The Dental Dangers of Christmas Treats

Posted by: Charlie Burrows

mince pies

Christmas is a time of year which brings with it excitement, fun, family and hopefully memorable moments. It also brings great food and a copious amount of rich desserts and sweets. Everyone loves indulging on rich food at this time of year, however, with all of this comes a price and unfortunately, the incredible range of puddings, sweets, chocolates and other traditional Christmas food on offer can have a negative impact on your dental health.

What can we do to reduce the “seasonal” impact on our teeth?

It’s all in moderation. That’s the message from health experts regarding many foods and to those struggling with their weight and it’s actually applicable to people who want to protect their teeth from decay and aesthetic degradation. Whether it’s wine, beer or fizzy drinks, anything with sugar in can impact your dental health and dental appearance and so a good rule of thumb is to consider everything in moderation.

However, there are some strategies we recommend over the Christmas period to help you prevent the risk of decay, whilst still enjoying yourself.

Dental Tips for a Happy Christmas

Don’t Graze

Give your teeth time to “recover” from the food or drink you consume. It’s easy at Christmas to keep eating and snacking on whatever is at hand but your teeth sometimes need time between snacks – sugar content in many foods and drink can be consumed in larger quantities than you might think and this can impact your teeth.

Chew Gum

Chewing sugar free gum is recommended by all good dentists and this allows a sort of “cleansing” effect, by creating saliva which helps to reduce the effect of acidity created by the foods we eat. It can also help keep you feel a little fuller between meals and prevent over-snacking.

Brush Correctly and Regularly

This is something everyone should do every day, not just at Christmas. However, it’s just as crucial at Christmas because of the potential excess of food and the type of foods and drink that are consumed at this time of year. Chocolates, Christmas cake, puddings, crisps, alcohol and spirits all contribute to high sugar content which over time can effect your teeth. Brush twice daily for 2 minutes, thoroughly and don’t eat or drink anything acidic for 30 minutes after, as this can reduce the effect of the fluoride in the toothpaste. Also, don’t forget to floss!

Try and Be Selective

Certain foods are better for your teeth, certainly compared with sweets and desserts. Turkey is extremely healthy for you but it’s also good for teeth. Cheese is also a great alternative to sweet treats and can actually help restore minerals your teeth may have lost from eating other foods. Calcium in cheese or dairy products can be very useful and also helps with digestion after a meal and works as a palate cleanser. With this in mind, cheese is a worthwhile option to end the day with, by helping to “clean” and restore your teeth a little after a bombardment of sugar-heavy food and drink.

Christmas Culprits

So what foods can be problematic? Well, anything with sugar in but of course you can’t avoid these altogether, especially at Christmas. It’s also more the length of time it stays in your mouth, rather than how much you eat that causes the problem and so you are battling against acidity and an overload of sugar in a single day, which is why avoiding snacks between meals is advisable although understandably difficult, as Christmas is when you want to indulge a little.

Chewing gum as we’ve mentioned is ideal for cleansing your mouth of acidity but some obvious Christmas snacks, foods and drinks to avoid if possible (or to at least moderate) include:

  • Christmas Cake
  • Chocolate log cake
  • Festive selection boxes (biscuits and sweets)
  • Candies
  • Crisps
  • Mulled Wine
  • Wine
  • Hard Liquor

Noone expects restrictions at Christmas, after all, if you can’t let your hair down at Christmas when can you? But you should consider what you are eating, how often you eat it and how you can reduce the impact on your teeth over Christmas. It’s easy to do and by following the moderation mantra, as with dieting, it can make a big difference and mean January won’t result in an unnecessary trip to the dentist.

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