The coming holiday season is traditionally a time to gather with friends and family. Food is often the centerpiece of these gatherings, with cocktails opening many of the events. When it comes to your smile, certain precautions can keep you from having greater risk for cavities, bad breath and gum disease.
Let’s begin with beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages. Alcohol has a drying effect on oral tissues, which means that saliva flow is not as efficient at rinsing bacteria out of the mouth. The more bacteria in your mouth, the faster they reproduce. This leads to bad breath and can progress to gingivitis (an initial stage of gum disease). When sugary mixers are added to alcohol, you up your risk for developing cavities and gum problems even more.
Although many people feel wine is a healthier choice, it isn’t beneficial when it comes to your smile. Not only can red wine can stain teeth, white wine has a tint and can contribute to discoloration.
Wine is also highly acidic. In the mouth, this acid mixes with digestive acids produced each time you eat or drink. This acidic double whammy can erode the protective shell of enamel on teeth, which ups your risk for cavities. This acid level is so high that it can soften tooth enamel within just ten minutes of consuming wine.
HELPFUL HINT: To minimize potential risks to your smile, ask for a glass of water and take a couple of gulps about every 10-15 minutes with your cocktail. Let the water sweep over the teeth before swallowing to dilute the acid buildup. Or, slip away to the restroom and swish with water after each beverage.
Now, let’s move on to hors d’ouevres and the nibbling that can go on for hours. The holidays are filled with delicious ‘finger foods’ that are easy to pop in the mouth as you mingle. As mentioned prior, every time you eat or drink, an acid attack begins in your mouth. This acid remains at a high level for 20-30 minutes.
This means that an acid attack began when you put that first sausage ball in your mouth and will continue – without a break – whenever you add in another goodie every 20 or so minutes. If the bite is sugary or carbohydrate-laden, the acid becomes even more potent.
HELPFUL HINT: Try to consume your nibbles in a short amount of time rather than draw eating out for hours. Fill a cocktail plate and enjoy it – and be done with nibbling for the evening. Consider loading up on the veggies and dip moreso than the candied pecans and cheese straws! (This is also better for your waistline!)
Because eating and drinking put teeth at risk for 20-30 minutes after consumption, wait that long before brushing. With enamel in a softened state, the abrasiveness of tooth paste combined with the scrubbing motion of a toothbrush can wear away enamel. Wait before brushing to give these acid levels time to subside.
Tooth enamel, once worn away, is gone forever. Do everything you can to protect it for the sake of your smile. Also, if you’ve experienced staining, ask us about our in-office Zoom 2 whitening system. This provides a high level of whitening in just one, brief appointment (and also makes a terrific gift for a smile you love)!
Smile with confidence as you enjoy the holidays with others! Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to discuss whitening or cosmetic enhancements. We can also help you achieve a healthy mouth for fresher breath as you prevent problems from occurring in the first place. Begin with a free, no obligation consultation.