It’s Christmas time once again, which of course means a certain inevitable amount of overindulgence. Getting through the Christmas period without getting at least slightly carried away…well, it just wouldn’t be Christmas! But at the same time, we all know we should be paying at least some attention to our health and wellbeing over the festive season.
Which includes our oral health – something that often goes entirely overlooked for a few days at least. The only problem being that Christmas also happens to be the time when we’re most likely to go well and truly OTT with all things sweet and sugary. Hence, Christmas also being something of a nightmare in the minds of millions of dentists worldwide.
Rather than attempting to frantically repair the damage with you shiny-new electric toothbrush for 2018 or that ultra-effective home tooth whitening kit you’ve had your eye on, it pays to be proactive. Plus, nobody ever said that you cannot have a fantastic time over Christmas – without doing extraordinary damage to your oral health in the process.
So at the risk of coming across as at least a little on the preachy side, here’s a quick rundown of six simple yet essential seasonal oral health tips from the experts:
- Watch the Sugar
First and foremost, try to bear in mind the fact that watching how much sugar you put into your body doesn’t mean having to avoid sugar entirely. It’s unhealthy and unnecessary to view all the usual Christmas goodies as your sworn enemies. Mince pies, Christmas pudding, chocolate tree decorations and so on – all the kinds of things you can and should enjoy…in moderation. The idea being that rather than attempting to abstain altogether or throwing caution to the wind, you instead focus on sensible enjoyment with absolutely zero guilt involved. After all, it’s not as if you eat like this the whole year round!
- Beware Hidden Sugars
You might also want to keep an eye out for all those hidden sugars that often slip under the radar. Dried fruits, fruit juices and various other bits and pieces that can pack a serious wallop on the sugar front. Again, don’t make the mistake of thinking it is necessary to avoid these kinds of treats entirely. Attempting to do so will prove fruitless…if you’ll forgive the unfortunate choice of words. Enjoy them in moderation and be proactive, rather than brutal.
- Don’t Ditch the Routine
With such an extraordinary array of responsibilities and duties to attend to, millions of people let their everyday oral hygiene habits slip at least slightly over Christmas. The problem being that when combined with the kinds of dietary and lifestyle changes that are also common over the festive period, the whole thing can add up to disaster for your oral health. It’s common to take something of a lackadaisical attitude to your usual routine over Christmas, but if anything, this is the time when you should be stepping up your oral hygiene regime. Better than running the risk of starting a new year with a rather painful dental bill to fork out for.
- Say Cheese!
If there’s one classic Christmas treat that can be fantastic for your teeth, it’s cheese. For obvious reasons, eating pound after pound of cheese habitually throughout the entire Christmas period doesn’t come highly recommended. That said, to enjoy a sensible amount of cheese from time to time can be to benefit your oral health in multiple ways. For one thing, cheese is packed with calcium – a mineral we all know is essential for strong teeth and bones. In addition, cheese is renowned for helping restore the natural acid balance within the mouth, which can significantly lower the risk of tooth decay. The fact that cheese also represents such a decadent indulgence simply serves as the proverbial icing on the cake.
- Tools, Not Teeth
It’s pretty much inevitable that over the Christmas period, you will find yourself tackling all manner of things with your teeth that should in fact be tackled with tools. Wrapping and opening presents, chomping on tape/string while decorating your home – teeth really do have the potential to be the ultimate multi-tool. Unfortunately, every time you use your teeth for a purpose for which they were not created, you run the risk of doing irreparable damage. The problem being that it’s the kind of bad habit that’s so common, most people simply accept it as normal and harmless. In reality, it can be quite the opposite – always try to use tools, rather than teeth, for anything other than eating!
- Alcohol in Moderation
Last but not least, Christmas also tends to be the time of year when the masses allow common sense to disappear from the equation entirely, when it comes to alcohol consumption. They use the festive period as the perfect excuse to get well and truly carried away, building the mother of all hangovers come January 1. The problem being that excessive or on-going alcohol consumption can be seriously damaging for your oral health in more ways than one. Not only is alcohol absolutely packed with damaging sugars and acids, but the dehydrating effect it has on the body can also wreak havoc for your oral health. And of course, the fact that alcohol has a negative effect on physical health in general also contributes to the damage done to our mouths.
…and one for the kids!
Last but not least, while it may be a sticking point that not everybody agrees with, many dentists encourage the idea of kids binge-eating their sweets and sugary gifts in one or more sittings. The reason being that over any given period – an hour, half a day etc. – there’s only a certain amount of damage you can do to your teeth and gums by over-indulging on the sweet stuff. By contrast, eat a more moderate amount of chocolate or sweets on an on-going basis over the entire Christmas period and you mount a non-top assault on your teeth and gums from start to finish.
Meaning that if you’re going to declare war on your teeth and gums, you might as well get it over and done with as quickly as possible!