Christmas and New Year’s Eve can be a horrendous time if you’re a tooth. Sugar intake is typically doubled and then some with boxes of chocolates and mince pies a frequent appearance. It’s not just the food either, festive beverages can contain a whole lot of sugar. Add up the hot chocolate while visiting Christmas markets with the mulled wine at the carol concert and then tally up all the glasses of sparkling wine you’ve consumed over the festive period and you’re looking at literally bags of sugar.
Why are we telling you this now, you ask? Because we’re not out to ruin anybody’s fun. We’ve all had a trying couple of years and there’s no one we know that hasn’t earned a little treat shared with loved ones after dealing with the stress of the pandemic. Wellbeing is a balance and sometimes you have to prioritise one thing over another to achieve it. But now it’s a new year and it seems to us that resolving to make good decisions for your teeth and dental health is one of the best things you could do for your overall wellbeing.
When teeth are healthy, they don’t cause you pain or attract your attention. It’s only when they start to hurt or cause problems that we pay them much attention. The irony is that if we treated them right all year round, then it’s less likely they’d need much assistance. Dentistry is 90% preventative actions and 10 % noisy machines in our dental practice, so the more you can do for your own dental health the less likely it will be that you’ll need any dental interventions from us.
For the sake of our client’s everyday dental health, we thought it would be a good idea to draw your attention to some things you can do, or not do, to help the health and longevity of your teeth.
1. Sensible Sipping: Sugar in drinks tends not to register in many people’s minds as bad for you, at least in the same way as we consider sugar in foods. We’re British and drink millions of cups of tea as a nation every single day. At least half of tea drinkers have a sugar or two in each cup. They do add up. Juice diets and sugary meal replacements can cause an increase in the amount of sugar you consume and they’re particularly commonplace in January.
One of the most sensible things you can do in the new year for your all-round health, is to regulate the amount of sugar in the drinks you consume. Check the sugar content in the products you buy by using the traffic light system on the nutrition information. If you can get an alternative drink product that has a green rating for sugar over amber or red, then choose that one- but remember, it is best to keep consumption of these drinks to mealtimes. In between meals water is the safest and healthiest option!
2. Carbon Consideration: It isn’t just the sugar in some drinks to be mindful of. Sparkling wines like prosecco, cava, and Champagne contain around a teaspoon of sugar per glass (even the dry/brut ones) but they also contain carbonic acid due to the carbon dioxide. Carbonated drinks (even the ones that contain zero sugar) can damage enamel leading to thin, brittle, sensitive teeth and while many people consider their sodas and fizzy soft drinks, they don’t associate sparkling wines with the same issues. All carbonated drinks should be limited for the health of your teeth and drinking alcohol to excess can cause other health problems too that aren’t connected with your teeth.
3. Improve Your Dental Hygiene Routine: Everyone knows that you should brush twice daily and use mouthwash and interdental cleaning aids regularly, but that doesn’t mean everyone does it. The excuses we’ve heard about not practicing good dental habits each day range from “I don’t have time,” to “I heard floss isn’t eco-friendly”. We’ve heard every excuse under the sun, but you can’t argue with a tooth abscess or gum disease. We all have a responsibility to make good choices for our planet, but we must make good choices for us too. There are plenty of effective, eco-friendly alternative products for your teeth available cheaply online or in supermarkets. You can get bamboo toothbrushes, non-plastic floss and mouthwash in fully recyclable packaging without much trouble or cost to you. So let this be the year you build positive dental habits that will last a lifetime.
4. See Your Dentist: Despite our implacable safety measures, we’ve found that some people are still reticent to resume their regular dental health checks and appointments. We urge people to consider getting a dental health check if you haven’t had one since the pandemic began. We understand your concerns about keeping safe from the Coronavirus, but attending your dentist and hygienist regularly is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your own dental health and general wellbeing. Also, none of us are getting out much these days and we dentists get lonely. We miss you, so come and see us sometimes.
If you are mindful of your dental habits and dietary behaviours, then your teeth will thank you. As we say, too many people only pay attention to the health of their teeth when they cause pain and discomfort. We can’t say enough how important preventative care is in dentistry and that we dentists are only responsible for a tiny fraction of your oral care. The person who makes the real decisions that affect your dental health is you, so make sure you make good choices for your teeth and your general health too.
Finally, we’d like to say a very happy New Year from Kennett Road Dental Practice to you. We wish this year will have only good things in store for you and your family and zero toothaches thrown in.