Tis The Season To Be Cavity Free
The holiday season is upon us! And, for us Queenslanders, that means sun soaked days, lots of food, more food, possibly some alcohol and fun times spent with friends and family. But be careful during the festive season, because Christmas can mean danger for your mouth!
December is a pretty chaotic month for most of us and sometimes that leads to routine and habits getting thrown out the window. So we’ve got you covered with a few tips to help you through the craziness that is Christmas! That way you and your family can stay cavity free!
Try To Stick To A Routine
Brushing your teeth twice a day is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease. For a lot of us, brushing twice a day is a habit we take for granted. But over this christmas period you could be going on a vacation, staying up late or just having people over and any of these things can easily disrupt your routines.
And so no matter how busy or tired you are, try to stick to a routine and brush twice a day, everyday.
Ps. If you have kids, make sure they stick to this routine too. If they’re going over to a friend’s for a sleepover, remember to pack their toothbrush. It may not get used but you just never know.
Timing Is Everything
Hands up if your stomach seems to know that it’s the holiday season! Suddenly, you go from being happy with 3 regular meals a day to having a bottomless pit where your stomach should be, that needs to be fed all day, everyday!
Snacking frequently is probably the worst thing you can do for your teeth.
You see, the more often we feed sugar to the decay causing bacteria in our mouths the more often our teeth gets exposed to the acid that these germs produce. A healthy mouth is only designed to handle 4 to 5 acid challenges a day before it is overwhelmed and enamel begins to break down. If you snack all day long, your saliva cannot reach a natural balance on its own.
That is how tooth decay works. And tooth decay leads to holes in your teeth, potentially pain and infection and more trips to the dentist!
If you find yourself having to snack regularly, try to limit sweets and sugary things to your main meal. That includes sweet drinks.
Saliva production increases during a big meal and it helps to wash away any remaining bits of food stuck to your teeth. Saliva also helps to neutralise the acid produced by the germs in your mouth.
If you’re looking for a snack, try and choose a healthier option – there’s so many good ones! Cheese, sugar-free yoghurt, carrot sticks or nuts are all great teeth friendly options that will also help keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Drinking some water after each meal/snack is another great way you can help to rinse bits of food from your mouth.
No, I’m not talking about hydrating with the alcoholic or sugar-filled varieties of beverages here.
It’s easy to forget to drink the recommended 8 glasses of water a day if you’re constantly on the run trying to sort things out before Christmas. And with the Queensland summer getting hotter each year (as I’m writing this, it’s 39 degrees outside!!), staying hydrated with water is so important, not just for your overall health, but also for your oral health.
If your body is dehydrated, you produce less saliva. And that means less protection for your teeth!
Germs in your mouth make acid after eating and drinking, and with less saliva around it lingers on your teeth. More acid makes your teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay. So try to sip on tap water throughout the day and limit your intake of soft drinks, sports drinks and juices. And make sure it’s tap water because it contains fluoride.
Can The Candy Cane
Hard lollies can do no good. In addition to being almost 100% sugar, they’re also a major culprit in causing broken or chipped teeth! Along with Minties and pork crackling, hard lollies are probably the biggest risk to your teeth and fillings.
You’re also more likely to suck on them for longer periods of time because they tend to take longer to dissolve. And the longer teeth spend exposed to sugar, the higher the risk of tooth decay.
Sticky Is Icky
Whether it’s a jelly bean, chewy caramel or a dried apricot, foods that are sticky and high in sugar (natural or not) are not teeth friendly. If you find yourself eating lots of food that are notorious for sticking to teeth this holiday season, make sure you rinse with water and brush your teeth thoroughly.
Know Your Dental First Aid
Accidents can happen at anytime and anywhere. It’s important to know what to do in case of a dental emergency so you can act quickly and give your teeth the best chance at surviving.
Click here to learn all about first aid for both adult and children dental injuries. You’ll definitely want to read this if you and your family spend any time by the pool this summer.
Don’t Forget Your Dentist This Holiday Season
Holidays can be a great time for you (and your children) to visit the dentist. Take this opportunity to keep up with your regular check-up and cleaning appointments so it’s one more thing you can tick off the list before work/school starts back up again. This way, everyone can start the new year with their best smile and oral health!
That’s it! I hope you find these tips helpful and useful to get you and your family through this silly season smiling all the way!
Be Merry, stay safe and bring on the new decade!
Jasmine Ooi BPharm
with Dr. Grant McGrath BDSc