If you take care of your teeth and gums the rest of the year, why should you let things slide at Christmas? Over-indulging in the sweet stuff might be a festive tradition, but it's not one you have to subscribe to – especially if you care about your family's health and wellbeing.
By focusing on tooth-friendly food and drink and making some creative changes to unhealthy staples, you can still get the most out of the holidays, without the toothaches.
If you love cheese, you're in luck – this favourite palate cleanser is great for your teeth in several ways:
Cheese can aid digestion too, but take care not to indulge too much if you're watching your figure.
Dried fruit is more associated with Christmas, but being high in natural sugars and tending to stick to the teeth, these can sometimes be as bad for your teeth as lollies.
For a healthier fruit option, fresh apples can help to clean your teeth of bacteria by scraping plaque off the surfaces as you bite. Apple skins can also remove bits of food trapped between the teeth.
Raw, crunchy vegetables like carrots and cucumbers can also clean teeth as you chew, as they scrape plaque off the surface, stimulate saliva flow and contain helpful vitamins that help to combat gum disease.
It's not only dairy products that contain calcium. Leafy vegetables such as celery, kale and spinach can also help to strengthen your teeth while they're scrubbing away plaque and food debris and stimulating saliva.
Add fresh leafy greens to salads and sandwiches to encourage everyone in your family to get a vitamin and nutrient boost. They're also low in calories.
Like cheese, nuts are another traditional Christmas delicacy that can actually be good for your oral health. As well as scrubbing the teeth and encouraging saliva, they also help to neutralise acidity in the mouth, and some nuts like almonds are good sources of teeth-strengthening calcium.
Where nuts can be bad for you is if you decide to use your teeth to crack them open. This is a recipe for a dental emergency, as it can lead to teeth chipping, cracking or weakening and being easier to damage later.
Toffees and sticky lollies are among the worst foods for teeth, because they hang around on the surface for longer – sometimes all day until you brush at night. If you have dental restorations such as fillings, crowns or veneers, these may even be pulled off by very chewy snacks.
Chocolate isn't exactly great for your teeth, but it rinses off much more easily, making it fine in moderation.
Plain water is one of the best drinks for your teeth – even better if you live in a fluoridated area and can get it virtually free from the tap. Fluoride is added to local water supplies at safe levels to help strengthen teeth and lower rates of tooth decay and other problems.
Dentists recommend drinking water throughout the day as part of preventive dental care, as it washes away bacteria and leftover food. Drinking a glass of water alongside a soft drink or alcohol can also lessen the effect of acids and sugars on your teeth.
In all the Christmas rush, don't forget about your dental check-up. Whether you're due for a visit or you want to see a dentist near you in Brisbane, get in touch with your local Face Value Dental clinic.