Even we health professionals enjoy a little extra food and drink over the festive period, but we would be remiss not to warn our patients of the potential for tooth damage.
Tooth erosion caused by alcohol, snacking between meals and increased consumption of sugary foods has the potential to escalate over Christmas.
According to the charity Addaction, Britons consume more than 600 million units of alcohol during December and 14% drink more than they intend to over Christmas. Meanwhile, Mars has historically reported that 65% of boxed chocolates are sold in the run up to Christmas.
If advice is to be focused on limiting the damage of a lifestyle harmful to the dentition, the following can be recommended:
• Drink erosive drinks through a straw to direct liquid to the back of the mouth and avoiding swishing drinks around the mouth
• Avoid carbonated and fruit juice mixers (which may be difficult as there is little else available and wine also has a low pH at around 3.5)
• Drink water between alcoholic beverages helps buffer their acidic potential
• Chewing sugar-free, xylitol- or sorbitol-sweetened gum to help neutralise acid in the mouth
• Never brush teeth immediately after acidic exposure, but waiting at least an hour. If this is not possible, rinsing with a fluoride mouth rinse and then applying a paste containing high fluoride or calcium phosphate to the teeth without rinsing before bed is worthwhile
• Use a fluoride mouthrinse throughout the day
• Use of a toothpaste low in abrasivity and a soft toothbrush.