Dr. Barotz here. As the holidays approach we open our calendars to parties with friends, after work socials and of course, family gatherings. I love the holidays and everything they stand for and truly enjoy the food and drink found at social gatherings. But as we move into this festive time, a word of caution as you lift your drink — some drinks are worse for your teeth than others.
I’m not suggesting that you eliminate holiday spirits just to avoid a couple of cavities, but I do have some suggestions that may help lessen the damage to your teeth during this time of merriment.
* Don’t pass up the cheese and cracker trays. Cheese reduces the risk of dental decay, stimulates the flow of saliva and contains milk proteins which neutralize plaque acids.
* Drink water between drinks and rinse your mouth with water (not tequila shooters). The water will help decrease the acid content of your mouth, which in turn may decrease the damage done to your teeth.
* Chew sugarless gum between drinks or on the way home. Chewing gum helps increase saliva flow, which in turn helps rinse the sugars from your mouth.
* I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Brush and floss your teeth, especially before going to bed. To help you remember, try leaving your toothbrush on your pillow before heading out to party.
* Drink a lot of water before going to bed. Not only will this help with a hangover, it will help reduce the intensity of which you grind your teeth.
* Get fluoride treatments from your dentist. Fluoride protects your teeth by inhibiting the acid from attacking the surface of the tooth.
* When choosing a drink, pay careful attention to the pH value (level of acidity) in the drink. Food or drink with a pH value of less than 5.5 can damage your teeth. Save the fizzy drinks for special occasions because they can really damage your teeth. The bubbles are made by pumping carbon dioxide into the beverage, which is acidic when mixed with water.
* Take special heed if you are drinking wine. Wine contains a lot of acid, usually in the range of 3.0 to 3.5. The reason for this is because the lower pH values improve the stability of wine. Most people who drink wine will spend at least 45 minutes to an hour and a half drinking it, which provides time for the acid to affect your teeth. Wine drinkers can counter the negative effects of wine by drinking a lot of water between drinks and not keeping the wine in your mouth for too long.
By following just a couple of these tips during the next couple of months, you’ll be able to welcome 2009 with a brighter and healthier smile.