Sweets, drinks, and fatty foods are all around us during the holidays, and it’s great … to a point. As long as you make an effort to prevent acid erosion of your teeth and accumulation of fat in your belly, it’s all good.
When it comes to preventing the weight gain, we’ll save that for another day or leave it to your primary care physician. As for how to protect your teeth from acid erosion, we’ve got that down pat.
Here’s how it goes…
1. Brush your teeth after consuming acidic foods or drinks.
Wait about a half hour, though, to allow your saliva to break down surface acids. Otherwise, you’ll just spread the acids around. If you would rather not wait, down a glass of water or rinse your mouth out before brushing.
2. Brush your teeth. Period.
No matter what, make sure you’re brushing 2 times a day for 2 minutes each time, preferably first thing in the morning and right before you go to sleep.
People will give you all kinds of advice about the best toothpaste and toothbrush to use, as well as whether it’s better to use an electric toothbrush or a manual one. We do have some preferences, but the bottom line is this: Choose whatever you will actually use. As long as you’re brushing, flossing, and doing so properly, that’s what matters. There’s no sense in investing in a $250 toothbrush if you don’t like to use it.
That being said, here are a few of our own preferences and suggestions:
- We’re all about the electric toothbrushes here. They clean your teeth and mouth way better. (Don’t forget to brush your tongue, by the way.)
- If you prefer a manual toothbrush, choose a soft-bristled brush.
- We like mouthwash, but avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol. And of course, they’re no substitute for proper brushing and flossing. Mouthwash is the finishing touch to the routine.
- Most toothpastes on the shelves are relatively comparable. Just make sure you choose a fluoridated toothpaste. Beyond that, patients have different needs, so ask us what we would recommend in your particular case.
- Avoid those charcoal toothbrushes and toothpastes.
- Don’t brush too hard or too often.
3. Floss. It’s a must.
Your teeth have five sides, not three. If you’re only using a toothbrush to clean your teeth, you’re missing two sides of each tooth. Floss at least once a day.
4. If you’re on-the-go, sugarfree gum might help.
If you’re on a four-hour road trip to visit the in-laws for the holidays, you can’t exactly brush your teeth in the car after that snack. Chewing on a piece of sugarfree gum can help clean your mouth and move saliva around, which is like a natural mouthwash.
Other foods or drinks that can help clean your mouth include:
- Celery, which acts as a gentle abrasive to clean your mouth.
- Carrots, which require plenty of chewing and therefore stimulate saliva production.
- A cube of cheese, which can neutralize the acids.
- Milk, which can also reduce the buildup of sugars and acids in your mouth.
- Water, as noted above, which washes away acids before they build up and eat away at your teeth.
5. Use a straw.
Avoid drinking carbonated beverages if you can. If you do drink soda, use a straw rather than drinking straight from the bottle or cup. That will help minimize how much of the liquid touches your teeth.
And don’t you even think about swooshing that drink around your mouth before you swallow each sip. We see how you drink your drink. You’re not fooling anyone. (Aha! Stop that…right now. We’re watching you.)
6. Come see us to start with a cleaner slate in 2022.
If you’re due for your cleaning, make an appointment to come see us early next year. We’ll try to undo some of the damage and help you start with a clean slate.
You know we’re just having fun here, but seriously, if you’re due for a cleaning, call to make an appointment with one of our hygienists. It’s a great way to start the new year off right.
On that note, have an absolutely wonderful, safe, joyous, and delicious holiday season and a fulfilling 2022!