Looking After Your Oral Health During The Festive Season

Christmas and New Year celebrations can be fun, but they can also pose a risk to your teeth and gums

Brushing teethSome of you will probably be looking out of your window and thinking how ‘Christmassy’ the snow looks, we certainly are! Others will be wishing it would go away and that Spring was a whole lot closer than it is.

One thing that is for sure though, is that nearly everyone will be looking forward to the Christmas break and the celebrations and parties that usually go along with it.

Christmas and the New Year is a great time to meet up with friends and family and enjoy a drink or two. With all the misery that we see almost daily on the news, enjoying ourselves a little at this time of the year can be no bad thing. We hope that you all have a great time in doing so, but equally, we would encourage you not to let the celebrations spoil the start to the new year due to oral health issues that were largely avoidable.

Our local Acton dentists have come up with a list of precautions that you can take in order to have a great time whilst also avoiding potential harm to your oral health.

Don’t smoke

If you have successfully stopped smoking in the past, you will probably be aware that if you are going to slip up and start again, this will be the time of year when it happens. Sometimes this starts with the sharing of cigars .. ‘just one’ you might think, but the reality is that, for some, smoking can be enjoyable. You might think you have the willpower to stop at just that one cigar or cigarette, but as many will attest, it really isn’t always that easy and you may well find that you start to crave the ‘odd cigarette’ every now and again. Before you know it, you may be smoking regularly.

Naturally, if you have never smoked, please don’t start. Not only is it now an expensive habit but one that may well lead to serious disease and also increased oral health problems such as stained teeth, gum disease and even oral cancer.

Moderate your alcohol intake

Most of us will enjoy a drink or two over the festive period and that is fine – in moderation. As with smoking, excessive drinking can lead to dental health issues including periodontitis, and, depending on your drink of choice, enamel erosion. There is also the not insignificant risk that if you have had too much to drink, you are likely to be more accident prone. We can almost guarantee that we will receive calls at the Acton Vale Dental Centre very early in the new year from people who have fallen or collided with something and broken a tooth, all because they had too much to drink.

By all means have a drink but try to drink in moderation. Make sure to drink plenty of water. This will not only help you to moderate, but will help you to avoid the dry mouth which is a contributory factor for gum disease.  It will also, of course, help you to avoid that unpleasant hangover!

Mind the chocolates

We don’t need to tell you that sugar is bad for your teeth. Unfortunately, chocolates and sweets are one of the more common Xmas presents we are likely to receive. Enjoy but try not to overindulge and when the festivities are over, rather than eating the rest of them for the sake of it, why not give them away to a charity rather than risk damaging your teeth?

Sticky foods

Chocolates and sweets may come into this category but so do many traditional Christmas foods such as mince pies and Christmas puddings. Not only do these usually contain sugar but they also stick to your teeth to the point that even drinking water may not dislodge any pieces that have become stuck. As these can remain in place for long periods of time, they can be very damaging to your teeth. Make sure that you brush your teeth well and use dental floss to remove any food that has become stuck between your teeth. Failure to do so may lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

Use your teeth for what they are meant for

This one should go without saying, but especially when alcohol is involved, we are quite capable of doing stupid things. One of these is the ‘party trick’ of opening bottles with our teeth or cracking nuts with them. We shouldn’t need to say this, but a significant number of people who attempt this will either end up in A&E with facial lacerations or be calling a dentist for an emergency appointment because they have broken a tooth or a number of teeth. Even opening crisp packets etc can cause your teeth to chip and crack, so please use your teeth for what they are meant for, and not for any ‘party tricks’.

Maintain your oral health regime

Cleaning your teeth all year round is important. The temptation for some of our Acton patients this Christmas though might be to ‘give it a miss’ after a day of cooking, playing with the kids and possibly drinking too. Days like this can be, quite frankly, exhausting even if enjoyable, and it might be tempting to crawl into bed without brushing and flossing your teeth. If you do this, you will be sleeping with your teeth and gums coated in sugars, feeding the potentially harmful bacteria that can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay. However exhausted you feel, do make sure to brush your teeth well and also floss between your teeth. Your mouth will feel much better in the morning and you will have minimised the risk of harm to your oral health.

Check your appointments diary

Finally, when the celebrations are over, please take time to sit down and check that you have appointments booked to see the dentist and hygienist at our clinic. These are essential for the overall health of your teeth and gums. If you find that you don’t have an appointment booked, give us a call in the new year to arrange one. You can do this by calling the Acton Vale Dental Centre on 020 8749 3267 and our friendly team will be on hand to help!