The tinsel is up and the TV is constantly promoting products for sale which can only mean one thing; it’s nearly Christmas. Love it or not, this is a time of year when many of our routines are broken as we prepare ourselves for a few days of relaxation and probable excess.
It is also a time of year when, as dentists, we are also fully aware of the additional risk to oral health that the season brings. In today’s blog, your local Addlestone dental team examine some of the risks to oral health and what you can do to minimise them.
Sweets and Chocolate
Let us start with one of the most obvious ones. Most of us will abandon any attempt to eat healthily at least for a few days of the year. Shopping sprees and stocking fillers mean that most of us will consume chocolates and sweets in a far greater quantity than we do the rest of the year. It doesn’t take much to work out how damaging this can be for our teeth!
The most obvious advice is not to overindulge but this is probably unrealistic to expect. Do try though not to eat these sweets to excess and if you want to snack whilst watching TV, try swapping some of them for more tooth friendly snacks such as nuts, cheese and crispy vegetable dips.
Teeth cleaning regime
Christmas can mean long tiring days, especially if you are doing the cooking as well as keeping the (probably hyperactive) children entertained. Add to that some alcohol and it isn’t surprising that by the end of the night all you want to do is to crawl into bed and go to sleep.
One of the consequences of this is that we may well go to bed without cleaning our teeth, or perhaps only giving them the most cursory of brushings. This is bad news for our teeth and gums which will be coated with sugars overnight and especially if you have overdone the sweets and chocolates.
No matter how tired you are, please do try to make sure that you both brush and floss your teeth well before going to bed, and no last minute chocolates afterwards either!
Christmas can be a challenging time for ex smokers, even those that have stopped some time ago. The smoking habit often lingers in our memory just waiting for a ‘trigger’ moment to start again. As we let our guard down, perhaps influenced by a few drinks, it can be all too easy to think that we can ‘just have one’ and then stop again. Whilst some people can do this, others may well find that this starts the temptation again and before they know it, they are regular smokers.
As we have covered a number of times, smoking is very bad for our oral health, with gum disease, infection and even oral cancers being major risks. Even if you are offered a good quality cigar, don’t do it. You may live to regret it.
As well as smoking, alcohol is a major contributor to oral cancer and gum disease if drunk in excess or regularly. Most of us will drink at Christmas time but it is worth making an effort not to do so to excess. Alternating alcoholic drinks with non alcoholic ones will help to keep us hydrated and avoiding a dry mouth (and possibly bad head) in the morning.
It is also worth noting that accidents, often influenced by alcohol, are one of the leading causes of emergency dental appointments at this time of the year. By all means drink and have a good time, but try to drink sensibly.
A few other tips
There are a number of other things that can lead to tooth damage at this time of the year. Some of these may seem obvious but you might be surprised how often some of these happen. Here are just a few of them.
Don’t put money in the Christmas pudding. This was once quite popular, with the person finding the coin being the one to keep it. It is very dangerous though and could lead to a broken tooth or, even worse, the finder choking on the coin.
Your teeth should not be used as nutcrackers, however strong they are. The shells of nuts are strong for a good reason and will pose a real threat to your teeth if you try to open nuts using them. Broken teeth and cut lips are likely. Use proper nutcrackers.
Never, ever open a bottle with your teeth. This ‘party trick’ can, and often does, go badly wrong. A broken tooth may be the least of your problems, especially if the bottle breaks, and you could find yourself in hospital with facial lacerations. Please do NOT do this.
No one, least of all our Addlestone dental team, want to spoil your fun at Christmas, but things can go wrong and completely spoil it. We hope that these tips will help you to have a fantastic and tooth friendly holiday.
We will be closed for some of the holidays. If you need to make an emergency dental appointment during such a time, please call the Sync Dental Centres on our usual number (01932 856541) and listen to the recorded message for further instructions. Have a great holiday!