With so much going on over the holidays, you don't want a toothache or chipped tooth to spoil the fun. Unfortunately, many traditional festive foods aren't so great for your teeth.
Keep your family safe this Christmas and New Year by choosing foods wisely, so you can keep tooth decay, cavities and other dental emergencies at bay.
You can still enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner and festive treats without worrying about your teeth. Crunchy fruits and vegetables can help to scrape plaque off teeth, while also providing valuable nutrients. Dairy snacks such as cheese and natural yoghurt contain calcium that can help to remineralise teeth.
If you can't go without the sweet stuff, chocolate can be less damaging for your teeth than sticky lollies, as it rinses off the teeth more easily afterwards. Sticky sweets can get trapped to the teeth, increasing the risk of decay.
Dried fruit is a Christmas staple, but many of these sweet treats are high in sugar and can be just as harmful as lollies, especially if they get stuck to your teeth. Make sure you rinse your mouth with water and brush your teeth carefully at night after eating dried fruits.
Even if you check nutrition labels and avoid sugary snacks, other foods such as biscuits, crackers and chips often contain 'hidden' sugars that break down in the mouth and can cause decay. Starchy foods can also get trapped in the teeth.
It's not just sugar that's bad for your teeth. Overly hard foods including nuts and hard lollies such as candy canes have been known to chip or crack teeth. This is considered a dental emergency and requires the attention of a professional dentist as soon as possible.
You don't have to avoid snacks completely, but you can reduce their effects on your teeth by eating shortly after a meal. That way, there'll be more saliva to help rinse away any leftover food and your teeth will have longer to recover between acid attacks.
Drinking too much alcohol dries the mouth, which increases the risk factor for a number of oral health problems. It also increases the likelihood of trips and falls that can damage teeth. Drinking in moderation and alternating with sips of water can help to minimise these effects.
Tap water is practically free, free from calories, and – in most parts of Australia – contains fluoride that helps to protect teeth against decay. Drinking water throughout the day will help to keep your mouth and body hydrated. A glass of water with meals and alongside other drinks will also help to rinse away leftover food and bacteria.
Whether it's wrapping paper or plastic packaging, avoid using your teeth and reach for the scissors instead. Using your teeth as tools puts them under pressure and can lead to chips or cracks. There's also a risk of swallowing foreign objects.
If you're making the most of the summer holiday to play rugby, football or other contact sports, dentists recommend that you wear a custom mouthguard to help protect your teeth and jaws from injuries. A mouthguard also makes a practical gift if you're stuck for ideas!
You might be enjoying the break, but you should never take time off from oral hygiene. However hectic the holidays get, make sure you brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily to help prevent plaque. You could also make it a New Year's resolution to see your dentist for a comprehensive check-up and clean.
If you're due for a check-up or you need some advice about your teeth, get in touch with our friendly team at Face Value Dental.
 Australian Dental Association. Diet and Nutrition [Online] 2017 [Accessed November 2018] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/Dental-Health-Week/Oral-Health-for-Busy-Lives/Diet-and-Nutrition
 Dental Health Services Victoria. Calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus [Online] 2013 [Accessed November 2018] Available from:https://www.dhsv.org.au/dental-advice/teeth-tips-and-facts/calcium-vitamin-d-and-phosphorus
 American Dental Association. 6 Ways to Keep Your Smile Bright This Holiday Season [Online] 2016 [Accessed November 2018] Available from: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/holiday-slideshow
 American Dental Association. 6 Tips for Cavity-Free Holidays [Online] 2013 [Accessed November 2018] Available from: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/holiday-foods
 American Dental Association. Have You Been Naughty or Nice to Your Teeth? [Online] 2015 [Accessed November 2018] Available from: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/babies-and-kids/holiday-healthy-teeth-tips