As Valentines Day and the Chinese New Year approaches this week, it will be a wonderful time of celebration with loved ones, family and friends. But, what is a great party without any of the sweet goodies and treats, right? Admit it, no matter how much advice we give about reducing the sweet stuff, it won’t happen. So, here are some simple tips to help protect your teeth and gums during this time of the year.
Sweet Foods – cookies, cakes, chocolates and candies
Sweet foods are going to be abundant, so be careful! The bad bacteria in your mouth love sugar too, and they secrete acids that can erode the enamel in your teeth, and over time, cause holes in your teeth.
The advice is to eat the sweet foods closer to the main meal times, instead of having them as snacks (which will be difficult!). If you can’t resist, choose healthier options that have less sugar and go for dark chocolate (ones with a high percentage of cocoa) 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 between our teeth and the biting surfaces of our teeth. They also stay on teeth longer. Because it takes longer for your saliva to break it down, it can 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 to prevent any remnants of food between your teeth before you go to bed. Using a mouthwash will definitly help too!
Hard foods – Nuts, tapioca chips and melon seeds
Teeth that have had extensive dental treatment are going to be prone to breaking or fracturing (whether it be the tooth or the restoration). This can lead to further damage to the tooth, sensitivity, leaky fillings, or further decay in the future.
Bite and chew on these crunchy snacks carefully, especially if you’ve had dental work done on your teeth previously. Where possible, use your hands or tools to crack open nuts and seeds as well.
Sour Foods – Juices, Fizzy Drinks, mandarin oranges
Oranges and other citrus fruits are acidic in nature. Fizzy drinks are double trouble, made up of 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 quickly and with a straw. Definitely don’t suck on it throughout the day, or slush it round your mouth like a mouthrinse! If you can dilute it with water, even better! Eat those mandarin oranges closer to meal times and wait for at least 45 minutes before brushing your teeth. This will help teeth recover from the acidic environment before applying an abrasive force on it.
Alcohol can dehydrate the mouth because it reduces the flow of saliva. Saliva is very important because it naturally neutralises the acids produced by the bacteria, and flushes foods in the mouth away. People with low salivary flow generally have a 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…)
Hope this post has been useful! Wishing everyone very Happy Valentines Day and prosperous Year of the Dog ahead!! (Keep those canines clean!).
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