As Valentines Day and Chinese New Year approach this weekend, it will be a wonderful time of celebration with loved ones, friends, and family. What is a great party without some of the traditional sweet treats and goodies, right?
So, while we happily indulge in these “sometimes foods”, here are some simple tips to help protect your teeth and gums during this lovely time of the year.
Sweet Foods - Cookies, Cakes, Chocolates and Candies
Sweet foods are going to be abundant! Do I hear a chorus of “Yay!” and “Oh no….” in unison?
The bad bacteria in our mouths loves sugar too. They secrete acids that can erode our tooth enamel, and over time, cause holes in our teeth.
The advice is to eat sweet foods closer to main meals, instead of multiple little sweet snacks between meals. When possible, choose healthier options with less sugar – e.g. go for dark chocolate instead of milk or white chocolate. Also, eat them quick – the less time in the mouth, the better.
Sticky Foods - Caramel, Pineapple Tarts, Nian Gao
These sticky goodies tend to get trapped in the spaces between our teeth and on the biting surfaces of our teeth. Because it takes longer for our saliva to break it down, they tend to stay on our teeth longer, and ultimately contribute to tooth decay.
Make it a point to rinse your mouth with water after eating these goodies, and brush your teeth with a fluoridated toothpaste. Floss carefully before bed to remove any food remnants between your teeth. Using a mouthwash will definitely help too!
Hard Foods - Nuts, Tapioca Chips and Melon Seeds
Teeth that have had extensive dental treatment are more prone to breaking or fracturing. This can lead to further damage to the tooth, sensitivity, leaky fillings, or decay in the future.
Bite and chew on these crunchy snacks carefully, especially if you have previously had dental work done on your teeth. Where possible, use tools or your hands, instead of your teeth, to crack open hard nuts and seeds.
Sour Foods - Juices, Fizzy Drinks, Mandarin Oranges
Oranges and other citrus fruits are acidic in nature. Fizzy drinks are double trouble – containing sugar and carbonic acid. Frequent exposure to acidic foods can cause teeth to be under continual acidic attack, resulting in the erosion of tooth enamel, sensitivity, and decay.
Drink your juices and fizzy drinks with a straw. Definitely don’t sip on them throughout the day, or slush them around your mouth like a mouth rinse! If you can dilute it with water, even better! Eat those mandarin oranges closer to mealtimes, and wait for at least 45 minutes before brushing your teeth. This will allow the teeth enamel to recover from the acidic environment before abrasive force is applied to it.
Alcohol can dehydrate the mouth because it reduces the flow of saliva. Saliva is very important as it naturally neutralises acids produced by bacteria, and it flushes away foods in the mouth. People with a low salivary flow are generally at higher risk of gum problems and tooth decay.
Drink plenty of water between your alcoholic beverages. The act of chewing encourages salivary flow, so have your beverage with a meal, or chew some sugar-free gum to help stimulate saliva flow (and freshen your breath!).