'Tis the season to be jolly and (over)indulge in a few festive treats! But it won't be just our waist lines taking a hit this Christmas.
Throughout the party season we will be increasing our intake of sugar, whether it be through alcohol or sweet foods, so it's vital we take extra special care of our teeth and gums.
Dr Thang Nghiem BDS, Clinical Director of the award winning London dental practice Ultrasmile, has a few tips for maintaining oral health – and avoiding too many visits to the dentist in the New Year.
"It is not actually about how much sugar we eat or drink but how long it stays in our mouths," he says.
"The best time to eat sweets and sugary foods/drinks is at mealtimes. This is because we produce more saliva when we are eating which helps to neutralise the acids produced by bacteria in the mouth and it also helps to rinse away food particles and sugary substances.
"The sweets that cause the most problems are boiled sweets, lollipops, gobstoppers and sticky toffees as these remain in our mouths for a longer time while they are being eaten. These sweets combine with the natural bacteria in the mouth and form acids that wear away the protective tooth enamel, eventually causing tooth decay.
"We also often neglect our oral hygiene routines at this time when we perhaps fall into bed without brushing our teeth after a night of drinking. While one night of missed brushing will not significantly affect your teeth, repeated missed brushings will have an impact on your dental health.
"Alcohol consumption can also increase your risk for oral cancer and this risk is increased significantly when combined with tobacco. It is thought that because alcohol dehydrates the cell walls in the mouth carcinogens can permeate the tissue more easily. It can also increase your risk of gum disease which destroys gum tissue and bone and is the leading cause of tooth loss and gum infections."
Maintain healthy teeth by following some simple steps:
• During festive times try and brush your teeth 3 times a day and don't forget to floss or use interdental brushes at least once a day
• Make sure you have a nice new toothbrush – you should replace them every 3 – 4 months
• Chew sugarless gum which creates more saliva production and helps to wash away sugar and harmful acids
• If you can, avoid snacking between meals
If you feel that you could improve your daily brushing, try going electric. The cleaning experience is more powerful and more thorough, the bristles getting deeper between the teeth and removing more plaque, meaning less fillings and healthier gums!
For more information, visit ultrasmile.co.uk or oralb.co.uk