How to protect your smile this festive season

How to protect your smile this festive season

From sticky dates to canapés, we reveal the surprising festive foods that damage teeth, plus the savvy ways to sidestep the problem

From sticky dates to canapés, we reveal the surprising festive foods that damage teeth, plus the savvy ways to sidestep the problem.

The festive season is great for a lot of reasons – you get a chance to reconnect with family, gathering your children and grandchildren round you for the holiday, as well as wear your favourite party outfits and let your hair down a little.

But the one thing it’s not so great for is your smile: many popular Christmas foods are actually quite hard on your teeth, especially if you’re already dealing with gum or dental issues associated with getting older.

So we’ve rounded up the best ways to enjoy those seasonal treats without leaving a lasting effect on your smile.

Garlic, spice and all things nice

Garlic, onion, and spices… these deliciously warming ingredients can leave breath less-than fresh.

Want to stay mistletoe-ready? Efficient brushing to remove plaque and bacteria is important, which is why it’s worth considering swapping to a decent electric toothbrush such as an Oral-B Genius 9000 Electric Toothbrush.

Brush around 30 minutes after eating, to avoid weakening enamel. The brush’s timer will alert you when the two-minute recommended time is up, then follow up with a good tongue brushing. Pay special attention to the back of your tongue, which is where most odour-causing bacteria is found.

Finish with floss to remove food particles, and an antibacterial mouthwash to help keep halitosis at bay.

Mini sweet treats

The chocolate, sweets and sweet canapés that get passed around endlessly at parties are so tempting, but it means you end up eating regularly, which makes it hard for your teeth’s natural defences to do their job.

The reason? When you have something sweet, within 30-40 minutes your saliva is working hard to neutralise the acidity, but it can’t do this if you’re grazing throughout that time period.

So have your sweet treats in one go rather than picking at them for prolonged periods and let the saliva in your mouth work its magic.

Free-flowing festive drinks

Alcohol makes the mouth dry, creating the perfect environment for tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath. The answer? Ensure your water glass is always topped up, too.

Remember that those delicious bubbles in sparkling cocktails are caused by carbon dioxide, which is acidic and can damage teeth. The occasional glass is unlikely to do any harm, but if you also reach for something alkaline like cheese, nuts, or raw veggies as you sip, you’ll neutralise the acid.

It’s also smart to keep chewing gum in your party clutch bag as chewing stimulates saliva, which is the mouth’s natural defence against acid.

Dates and dried fruit

Gooey, sticky and chewy dried fruit sticks to the grooves and crevices of your teeth. Not only that, they tend to stay in the mouth longer than sweet foods you quickly chew and swallow, giving your teeth a longer sugar bath.

As with other sweet snacks, save these for meal times, as enjoying these treats in one sitting gives your natural defences the chance to work. Plus combining sugary treats with neutralising foods high in calcium (cheese, for example) helps minimise any potential damage.

Dark drinks

Use a straw when you drink anything with colour to avoid it staining your teeth, as it prevents the sugars and acids in the drinks from gaining direct contact with your teeth.

For more clever ways to make your smile brighter, click here for tips on turning back time on your teeth.

Very hot or cold food and drink

If you have sensitive teeth, you’ll know that hot food, cold drinks or sweet or sour food and drink can set off a sharp, sudden pain.

As a remedy to sensitive teeth, use Oral-B Pro-Expert Sensitive Toothpaste when brushing and also spread a thin layer onto exposed tooth roots with your finger before you go to bed.

Do you have tips for looking after your teeth while still enjoying your favourite treats? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section below.

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