The Vice President of The British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and founder of Bespoke Smile Advanced Dentistry and Academy, expert Dr Sam Jethwa shares some of his top tips for looking after your teeth during the holiday season:
The holiday season can have a huge impact on teeth and there are a number of reasons for this, largely due to the changes in diet and lifestyle that many people adopt during this time. There are a number of things that you can do to look after your teeth during the holiday season, including:
1 Chew sugar-free gum on nights out
Research suggests that chewing sugar free gum can be beneficial to teeth because it can help reduce the risk of tooth decay. It can help break down the food stuck in the mouth and also causes your mouth to produce more saliva which reduces acid on the teeth and removes plaque and debris.
2 Avoid eating popcorn, boiled sweets, and olives
Chipped and cracked teeth are extremely common and something that becomes even more prevalent with age as the odds of tooth decay increase. In fact, research suggests that the prevalence of cracked teeth is around 80% in people over 40 years old.
I see a huge amount of patients who are wishing to address teeth that have been chipped and cracked. Sometimes people don’t even realise their tooth is cracked but are experiencing sensitivity in that area especially when exposed to hot or cold temperatures.
Cracks are usually down to bite issues. Most of these go unnoticed because dentists aren’t trained to spot them, until post graduate education which is not part of regular training. In fact, it’s such a severe problem in the UK that I have an academy that trains dentists.
Age does play a significant role here. As we get older our teeth do become weaker due to their constant wear and tea. For those who grind their teeth (bruxism), they can find that the pressure exerted can cause cracking – as can biting or chewing hard food such as popcorn kernels, boiled sweets, and olive stones which are often consumed over the holiday season.
3 Ensure you’re up to date with your dental check ups
Regular dental check-ups are advisable regardless of the time of year. However over the holiday season it is even more imperative that you’re up to date with these as many practices close over the holiday season which can make it harder to get an appointment if you need one. Ensuring you’re up to date will help to reduce the likelihood of suddenly experiencing toothache or other problems.’
4 Avoid red wine
Teeth discolouration is an extremely common problem and something which seems much more aware of at present then they once were. Just as red wine stains clothes, it also stains your teeth and over time it can cause teeth to become discoloured and take on a browny dingy colour.
This happens because of the acids, tannin and dyes in wine. Whilst all teeth are prone to staining and discolouration, red wine can be particularly problematic for people who have recently undergone teeth whitening or have veneers.
This is because after teeth whitening treatment your teeth can be more vulnerable to staining and although porcelain veneers should not be stained by red wine, your natural teeth can be and so since your veneers are matched to your natural teeth, if staining occurs your veneers will stand out.
5 Don’t forget to pack your retainers if you’re visiting family and friends
Crooked teeth is a big concern for many people, indeed statistics show a rise in adults seeking tooth-straightening treatment in recent years.
‘There are a number of reasons for crooked teeth. They can be genetic, or caused by overcrowding in the mouth, jaw shape or having too many teeth (hyperdontia). My personal experience is very much representative of the increase in adults seeking tooth-straightening treatments in recent years, and I think that this is down to a combination of reasons – including increased awareness of the treatments available for it.
‘With Invisalign straightening treatments more popular than ever, it’s crucial that you don’t forget to keep your retainers with you whilst on the flight. Teeth can move position if retainers aren’t worn regularly. It’s important that you wear your retainers for the recommended amount of time even during the holiday season, otherwise you won’t achieve optimum results.
6 Brush and floss teeth before a night out
Making sure teeth are well brushed and flossed before you go out isn’t only essential for preventing tooth decay, but it can also help to reduce the discoloration from drinking red wine because stains have a tendency to cling to the plaque on your teeth, so eliminating the plaque is important.
7 Drink red and mulled wine through a straw
All teeth are prone to staining and discoloration and red wine can be particularly problematic for people who have recently undergone teeth whitening or have veneers. When your teeth come into contact with red wine the coloured pigment in the grapes is bound to your teeth by the tannins.
This is made worse by the acidity in the wine which makes the enamel more porous. If you are drinking staining drinks such as red wine and mulled wine then try drinking through a straw to reduce the amount of contact your teeth have with the liquid in question. This can help to reduce the staining on the teeth.