With Christmas almost upon us, it is a virtual certainty that sugary foods and drinks will be staple consumption as part of the festivities. In the last blog (part 1), we looked at the problem chocolates, sweets, and other confectionery delights can be for your oral hygiene unless you know how to take care of your teeth during this time. We’re following up in this part 2 with more general oral hygiene tips for the upcoming holiday season.
Try to Avoid Sugary Drinks
“Sugary drinks” encompasses a range of fizzy beverages, sports drinks (like Gatorade), as well as even flavoured waters. Make sure you look at the label in the Nutrition Information table under the “Carbohydrates – Sugars” section to get the most accurate information on how much sugar the beverage contains. High exposure to sugary drinks can be worse than eating sweets and confectionary as the liquid fills your whole mouth, going into all the areas between your teeth that are difficult to access with your toothbrush.
The Benefits of Water
Water is one of your most powerful allies when it comes to sugar consumption. Water neutralises the acidic content in confectionary and sugary beverages. If you drink water consistently throughout the day (or at least swish the water around in your mouth after sugar consumption), it will give the sugar in your mouth a lot less time to stick to your teeth. Hence, this will reduce the possibility of cavities developing in your teeth.
Brushing and Flossing Your Teeth
As you are probably aware, it’s recommended that you brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. It’s a given that the more you expose your teeth to high sugar and acid content, the more you should brush and floss your teeth. However, there are two conditions:
- Rinse your mouth with water directly after consuming sugary sweets and drinks; and
- Wait for half an hour before brushing your teeth.
Why? The acid would have weakened the enamel around your teeth so if you brushed right after eating, you’d be damaging your enamel further. It is best to rinse your mouth with water as soon as you’ve eaten/drunk these sugary substances, then brush and floss your teeth later.
Try not to snack all day. Eating a mountain of confectionary in one sitting is preferable to constantly snacking on sweets over weeks or even days. If you’re going to expose your teeth to sugars and acids, try to do it in the smallest amount of time as possible.
Instead of snacking, you can chew sugarless gum if you feel your mouth itching to eat more lollies. Research has shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals helps reduce tooth decay. Saliva is built up with the chewing movement and helps to neutralise bacterial acid (much like rinsing your mouth with water).
You can also use mouthrinse to deal with any sticky residue left in your teeth. Most mouthrinses have the added bonus of containing fluoride which will help strengthen the enamel of your teeth.
With all this said, don’t forget to make the most of the celebrations by taking care of yourself and your oral health, and as always, keep on smiling!