Around the festive period, it’s standard fare to have a glass (or two, or three) of bubbly.
However, a hangover isn’t the only thing you have to worry about if you have too much of the fizzy stuff – with a term called ‘prosecco smile’ being popularised by dentists over the last few years.
Dr Mervyn Druian, from the London Centre for Cosmetic Dentistry, told Mail Online about the phenomenon: ‘The signs of prosecco smile are where the teeth come out of the gum.
‘It starts with a white line just below the gum, which if you probe it is a little bit soft, and that is the beginning of tooth decay which can lead to fillings and dental work.’
Although simply deciding to eschew the sparkling wine will make a difference, let’s be realistic.
Thankfully there are more manageable ways to keep your teeth healthy even while enjoying a tipple.
Oral health experts, Anna Middleton, Founder of London Hygienist and Dr Reena Wadia, Founder of RW Perio share their top tips on how to protect your teeth during the festive period.
Here are their top tips:
Use a straw and add ice
Anna says: ‘Up to 80% of common tooth problems are caused by acid attacks on the teeth, leading to erosion which is the permanent and irreversible wearing a way of enamel – the hard-outer part of the tooth.’
All alcoholic drinks are acidic and have a high sugar content, and the dehydration they cause can lead to erosion, decay, and in some cases gum disease.
Reena says that prosecco is the worst offender: ‘Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a glass of prosecco, however it is one of the most dentally-damaging drinks due to its acidity, sugar content and alcohol levels.’
Anna advises using a straw to keep the prosecco from hitting your teeth, while Reena says that adding ice to dilute and drinking water in between can protect from erosion.
Don’t skip your bedtime routine
‘As tempting as it is to come home and fall straight into bed, after all those nibbles and drinks, it is important to ramp up your oral hygiene routine,’ says Anna.
‘Make sure you are using a fluoride toothpaste to protect against damage. I recommend Regenerate Enamel Science Advanced Toothpaste as it can help remineralise early enamel erosion.
‘Be sure to spit, but not rinse before bed to leave some of the toothpaste behind to protect the teeth.’
She also recommends using interdental brushes or floss, as brushing only cleans around 60% to 65% of the tooth surface.
Reena adds that you should wait around half an hour after your last glass of fizz to brush your teeth, to avoid brushing the acid from the drink around your mouth.
She says: ‘Why not get your family’s toothbrushes with toothpaste ready in advance? That way, half the job is already done!
‘Also make sure you’re brushing for at least two minutes – make it more fun by brushing along to your favourite Christmas song! You may also want to add in tongue cleaning as well as a mouthwash to ensure you maintain that fresh breath over the festive period.’
Snack safely and stay hydrated
Prosecco itself isn’t going to solely ruin your teeth – your whole diet effects your oral health. So, to minimise any damage prosecco might do, think about the rest of your food and drink intake.
According to Reena: ‘Of course, it’s difficult with so many delicious treats on tap at this time of year but try to avoid continuously grazing during the festive period.
‘This drip-feed approach isn’t a good idea as it doesn’t give your mouth a chance to recover from sugar attacks. It’s not the amount of sugar you eat that damages your teeth, it’s how often you eat it. So yes, that’s permission to gobble all those mince pies in one go.’
The pair’s top ‘safe’ snacks for your teeth are raw vegetables, crisps, and cheese, with cheese in particular neutralising sugar by the teeth.
Anna also adds: ‘Avoid coffee shop festive coffees if you can as they have an extremely high sugar and fat content.’
Freshen up on the go
Granted we don’t have much of a chance to head out to bars or restaurants at the moment, but if you’re not at home for whatever reason you can still keep the sugars in your mouth in check.
Anna says; ‘Sugar free chewing gum or mints after eating will encourage saliva production to help neutralise plaque acids and remove food debris.
‘For extra dental protection opt for those with Xylitol in them as it has been clinically proven to be kill the bacteria responsible for dental decay.
My favourite are Peppersmith. I also like Regenerate’s Advanced Foaming Mouthwash which comes in a handy bottle you can slip into your bag.
‘It has been developed to help restore early enamel mineral erosion, as well as delivering long lasting freshness – pass the mistletoe.’
Don’t skip your dental appointments
With Christmas a busy time of year, it’s understandable that some things fall by the wayside. Try your best, though, to keep to regular check-ups and appointments.
Anna says: ‘No one wants toothache over the holidays. It is advised you see the dentist once a year so they can pick up on early dental problems and possibly prevent them from becoming bigger ones.
‘It is also recommended to the see the hygienist between one and four times a year, depending on your needs, to remove any build-up of plaque, maintaining your oral hygiene helping to protect teeth and keep them clean.’
The best defence, is a good offence, after all.
Be careful what you bite and chew
If your teeth are being used for other things – and potentially being damaged – you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Reena says: ‘Wrapping presents (especially at the last minute) can involve ripping off strips of sticky tape with your teeth. Don’t do it – you’ll be putting lots of pressure on the edges of your teeth when you tear the sticky tape, so it’s an easy way to crack or weaken teeth, or even dislodge a crown or veener.
‘In the same way, cracking nuts with your teeth is a bad idea. It can shatter teeth so use nutcrackers.
‘Plus, after a few drinks, opening bottles with your teeth may similarly seem like a good idea, but it’s obviously got the potential to cause serious damage. So if you’re hosting a Christmas party, make sure you’ve got plenty of bottle openers handy for guests!’
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