Party season is upon us and it’s not just our livers feeling the strain - those festive excesses (large glass of merlot and another Quality Street anyone?) can have a detrimental effect on our teeth too.
So, we caught up with the dental experts - Dr Milad Shadrooh, aka The Singing Dentist and Anna Middleton, founder of London Hygienist - about how to keep our teeth healthy when we're burning the candle at both ends.
Slip a metal straw in your clutch
80% of common tooth problems, including cavities and staining, are caused by acid attacks on the teeth, leading to enamel erosion. And the bad news is, party season sees us consume more of the foods and drinks that can cause these issues. 'Wine, beer, spirits and mixed drinks are acidic and have a high sugar content, which over time can break down the enamel that protects your teeth,' explains Anna Middleton. 'Alcohol also causes dehydration and dry mouth, which can lead to erosion, tooth decay and an increased risk of gum disease.'
One simple way to minimise damage when you're drinking cocktails and mixed drinks is to use a straw, helping to bypass your pearly whites (but make it an environmentally-friendly one, okay?)
Reboot your nightly routine
As tempting as it is to come home and fall straight into bed, after all those canapés and cocktails, it's important to ramp up your oral hygiene routine. Regular use of fluoride-based products will protect against damage. And in the case of Regenerate Enamel Science Advanced Toothpaste and Boosting Serum, they can actually help to remineralise early enamel erosion. Using technology inspired by bone repair research, the daily toothpaste, combined with a monthly application of the serum, help form a fresh supply of minerals that wrap and integrate onto teeth to regenerate enamel mineral.
'And don’t forget to clean between the teeth with floss or interdental brushes – brushing alone only cleans two-thirds of the tooth,' adds Dr Milad.
'With all foods and drinks, it’s not the amount of sugar or acid you have, it’s how frequently you have them,' warns Anna. 'Every time you eat or drink, the bacteria in the mouth are fed and produce acid. This attacks the teeth, which increases the chances of developing dental decay and erosion. Try not to snack too much between meals to reduce the risk.'
If you do fancy a snack, Dr Milad says: 'Eating raw vegetables can help reduce stain build-up to a certain extent. And cheese - which is naturally alkaline - neutralises acid build-up and helps to bring the pH of the mouth back to normal.' Somebody pass the cheeseboard.
Don't skip the check-ups
'Sticking to appointments is crucial because dentists can pick up on early dental problems and possibly prevent them from turning into bigger problems down the line,' Dr Milad explains. It's also recommended that you see a hygienist twice a year to remove any build-up of plaque, helping to protect teeth and keep them stain-free.
Keep up the H2O
When it comes to hydration, your best option is always water, stresses Dr Milad: 'It doesn’t damage your teeth and can rinse away acid build-up in the mouth after eating or drinking sugary drinks. Sugary drinks can trigger acid attacks in the same way that sugars in foods do, so drinking water helps to rinse these away.'
About to hit the office party? Ensure you’re knocking back a few glasses of water between all those wines and it’ll help reduce the residue – and potential staining – that can appear. Another tip? Add ice to drinks to dilute their damaging effects.
Freshen up after meals
Ideally, you should aim to brush your teeth within an hour of mealtimes. But, if you're out and about, you can still keep your smile looking its best. According to Dr Milad, chewing sugar-free gum after eating will 'encourage the production of restorative saliva' (a good thing, FYI, since it neutralises plaque acids and helps remove food debris.) We also advise popping an on-the-go mouthwash in your beauty bag. Regenerate’s handy Advanced Foaming Mouthwash has been developed to help restore early enamel mineral erosion, as well as delivering long-lasting freshness – perfect for any unexpected encounters under the mistletoe.