Five simple steps to reduce Christmas tooth damage

Happy Christmas! This time of year is when people traditionally indulge in more food and drink than usual and as a result you can cause a lot of damage to your teeth. Christmas can also be a very busy season, so I’ve jotted down a few simple tips to help you minimise the risk of tooth decay.

1. Choose chocolate over toffee

A lot of the festive treats are of the sugary variety, so if you have the choice between chocolate or toffee, choose chocolate – it is far less damaging. Dark chocolate has less sugar than light chocolate, but all chocolate is washed away by saliva quite quickly, whereas toffee substances stay on the tooth surfaces and allow more acid production. Toffees can pull crowns off, so I’d never recommend toffee, but if you’ve got a mouthful of implants then as it’s Christmas, sticky toffee pudding maybe ok just this once!

2. Brush before eating

Don’t forget to brush your teeth before eating so that the tooth surface hasn’t been weakened by the acid that’s created from plaque. It seems like a good idea to brush your teeth after you eat, but it actually could cause more damage, so brush before meals rather than after eating. When we eat, plaque, which is a mixture of bacteria on the surface of our teeth, converts sugar to acid and that acid dissolves the minerals on the surface of the teeth. This goes on for about an hour after we’ve eaten, until saliva neutralises the acid. Then within saliva there are minerals which then go back onto the surface of the teeth if there is a gap before the next acid attack.

3. Cut out snacks

For children it’s about trying to keep the sweets to meal times. Every time we have something sweet, acid production goes on for about an hour, so if children are snacking every hour the teeth remain bathed in acid. If you keep their food to three times a day, that’s only three acid attacks which the body can then neutralise. At Christmas time it’s easy to snack all day long, so try to be disciplined to keep off the snacks between meals. That will not only help keep your waistline trim, but also keep your wallet healthy when you next visit the dentist.

4. Use a straw

Using a straw when drinking fizzy drinks, fruit juices and white wines can help protect your teeth. All three are high in acid so drinking them through a straw will help prevent that acid from coming into contact with and dissolving minerals from the surface of your teeth.

5. Chips and broken teeth

If people are unfortunate to chip bits off their teeth over the festive period, provided it is not painful, then they can wait until the new year to see their dentist. However, if the broken surface is rubbing against their tongue or the tooth is sensitive, it’s a good idea to see your dentist sooner rather than later.

Should you need to get hold of us over the Christmas period then call Smiles Better and listen out for the emergency number, which will be on our answerphone: 01873 857400.