After the year we’ve had, you may be looking at winter as a time where you can finally have some fun, blow off some steam and put the merry back into merry Christmas.
However, while this may sound great in principle, gorging on too many snacks over the winter period can not only be bad for your overall health but some wintry snacks, in particular, can play havoc on your teeth.
We have highlighted a few of these for you below, helping you avoid any potential winter-based dental emergencies. But, before we delve into the foods and drinks you’ll need to avoid, it’s important to understand the science behind why they’re so bad for your teeth.
The Basics Of Nutritional Dentistry…
In essence, everything you eat comes into contact with your teeth and can potentially cause them to stain, breaking down your teeth’s enamel in the process.
Similarly, the older you get, the greater the likelihood will be that your tooth enamel will become more porous as a result of wear and tear. As a result of this, your teeth grow more and more likely to stain as you age. It’s for this reason why many people opt to have teeth whitening done, to restore the look of their teeth to their former glory.
When it comes to food and drink, there are three main types of substance that can stain your teeth:
- Chromogens. These are the compounds in foods that give them a strong colour. They are strong pigments which can cling to tooth enamel and cause them to discolour.
- Acids. These attack the surface of the tooth enamel, making it easier for stains to settle.
- Tannins. These are plant-based compounds which enable stains to adhere to your teeth.
While you may not think it, these substances are present in many of the foodstuffs and drinks we consume every day. Even healthy foods, like citrus fruits, can have a detrimental effect on both the colour and condition of your teeth due to the harmful substances they contain.
With this in mind, here are some of the most notable wintry food and drinks to avoid over the Christmas period.
Mulled wine is typically produced using a combination of fruit and red wine – both of which can stain your teeth.
The tannins contained in red wine are the same as those found in tea and coffee and can cause what’s called grey tooth discolouration – a stain that’s fairly difficult to remove.
Meanwhile, the citrus fruits you add to the mulled wine mixture to give it a nice flavour are fairly acidic and can erode your teeth’s enamel, exposing the yellow tissue below the tooth’s surface. This, in turn, enables the tannins in the red wine to stain the newly exposed tissue.
Coffee & Tea
With the winter being a lot colder, many people will turn to nice, warm drinks to help them feel all cosy again.
However, drinking coffee and tea can actually be very bad for your teeth. This, again, is because of the tannins that are contained within tea and coffee, which cause your teeth to stain.
Tea and coffee alter the pH balance of the mouth as well, meaning that any acidic foods you eat after your cuppa can cause damage to your teeth more quickly. Therefore, to counteract this effect, try to drink white or herbal teas instead or – if you’re feeling brave – use a straw. Although, be careful not to burn the inside of your mouth.
Christmas wouldn’t Christmas without binge eating too much chocolate. However, as you should know, chocolate and sugary snacks like it aren’t particularly good for either your health or your teeth – regardless of how tasty they might be.
This is because the sugars in biscuits, cakes, boiled sweets, chocolates and all other sugary foods latch onto our teeth. Bacteria can then feed off the sugars deposited there, going on to cause tooth decay and eventual discolouration.
Whether it be an alcoholic drink or a soft drink, in the same way as the sugars in chocolate and other unhealthy snacks can ruin your teeth, these types of drink products are potentially even worse.
This is because your teeth not only have the sugars to contend with but they also have the acidic environment to deal with too, both attacking and damaging the surface of your teeth at the same time.
The winter period is known the world over for being a time when you wrap up warm and comfort eat a little more often than usual. So, while we’re not saying you shouldn’t do that at all, just tread carefully and remember the potential effects it could have on your dental hygiene.