Your Festive Guide To Good Oral Health

Our Canterbury dental team offers some words of advice….

For some people, Christmas is the highlight of their year, whilst others may be less enthusiastic about it. Most of us though, will take part in Christmas activities including parties and family events, and fun though these may be, they also pose additional challenges to our teeth and gums.

We are not suggesting that you avoid friends and family at this time of year in order to keep your oral health in good condition, but it is always worth having the facts at hand so that you can make an informed choice as to what you do, and don’t want to do over the festive period. In today’s blog, we offer some thoughts to our Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic patients on how to avoid oral health problems this Christmas.

Alcohol

Let’s start with one of the most likely causes of severe damage to teeth that may require an emergency appointment. Many people drink little during the year, but when a Christmas party arises, some do start to drink, often in greater quantity than they can really safely manage. This can contribute to any number of problems that can potentially lead to dental trauma. Falls, collisions and even fights are not unheard of when someone has drunk too much. Christmas is easily spoiled by having to have emergency dental treatment when time would be better spent with friends and family. Drinking in moderation is the sensible play.

Smoking

Smoking is bad for your oral health at any time of the year. It is a leading contributor to both gum disease and mouth cancer. Christmas and New Year’s Eve though, are times when those who have given up smoking during the year may well relapse. Whilst ‘just one cigarette’ will cause little long term harm, for ex smokers, there is every likelihood that the ‘one cigarette’ will be a slippery slope towards a regular smoking habit again. However much you are tempted by a celebratory cigar, our advice is simple .. don’t do it.

Excessive chocolate and sweets

We probably don’t need to tell you that you are likely to eat a lot more sweets and other sugar filled goodies at Christmas time. These are bad for your teeth, but you can reduce their effect not only by limiting the amount that you eat (something your waistline may also thank you for), but also how you eat them. The problem with having sweets etc readily available throughout the day is that we are likely to continually ‘graze’. This means that our teeth are exposed to a constant supply of sugar throughout the day. As our teeth would normally remineralise after eating if allowed time, denying them this time can lead to enamel erosion. Do try to leave reasonable periods of time between eating sweets to give your teeth time to recover. Also, drink plenty of water to help wash away some of the sugar.

Party tricks

Probably related in many ways to the section on alcohol; most of us are capable of ‘showing off’ when we have had too much to drink. Accidents can occur in this way and one all too common one which can have serious consequences is opening beer bottles with your teeth. In addition to the likelihood of broken teeth, one small slip could lead to facial injuries too. If you think you might be tempted to do this, treat yourself to a bottle opener for Christmas. You know it makes sense!

Mince pies

In addition to sweets and chocolates, we are likely to eat traditional Christmas foods such as mince pies and Christmas pudding. Delicious though these may be, they are both incredibly sticky and can result in food becoming stuck to your teeth throughout the day. Although we generally recommend that you brush your teeth both morning and evening, it may be advisable to add an additional brushing after your Christmas meal (leaving half an hour for the teeth to remineralise). This can be a light brushing designed primarily to remove sticky food, as long as you brush correctly again in the evening.

Maintain your cleaning routine

Christmas can be great fun, but it can be very tiring too, especially if you have had a large gathering, with perhaps too much alcohol. It can be all too easy at the end of a very long day, to just collapse into bed without brushing your teeth. This is never a good idea at any time of the year, but, for all of the reasons mentioned above, this is especially the case at Christmas. However tired you are, always make time to brush your teeth properly in the morning and especially last thing at night before going to bed. Also use your dental floss to make sure that the spaces between your teeth are clean.

We hope that this blog helps you to have an enjoyable but safe Christmas. We hope that you don’t need to, but if you do need to see a dentist in an emergency, please call us for an emergency appointment. If we are closed, please listen to the message which will advise you what steps to take next.

From all of the team at Bradley And Partners Dental and Implant Clinic in Canterbury, we wish you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!