Oral health: Expert on the holiday foods that could ‘damage teeth’ – May be ‘irreversible’

Dr Alex George reveals best time to brush your teeth

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“Sweets, ice cream and alcohol, in addition to a possible break from our normal teeth care routine, can leave your teeth exposed to higher risk of damage,” said Dr Catherine Tannahill, a dentist and director of dentistry at Portman Dental Care. Even a short time can cause this damage to become “irreversible”, however, there’s plenty you can do to protect your teeth.

Dr Tannahill said: “Holidays are a time for self-care, rest and relaxation, but we must remember that oral hygiene is an important part of self-care too.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a trip across the country to stay with relatives, a holiday cottage in Wales or taking a plane to Spain, our oral health care shouldn’t change. 

“We often rush to clean our teeth in the morning or are tired and don’t put much effort in at bedtime, but on holiday we probably have more time to spend to give our teeth and gums some extra love, along with the rest of your mind and body. 

“On holidays our diet is often different and can be filled with sweet treats, extra fizzy drinks and acidic wines and juices that can damage teeth.

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“So, if we want to keep our mouths healthy, with decay-free teeth and healthy gums, it is imperative that our oral health routine doesn’t take a holiday too.”

The key is to brush your teeth the last thing at night and at least once during the day.

The doctor also recommended reaching for fluoride toothpaste.

However, there are plenty of other tips she offered for keeping up your oral health. 

Stick to usual daily cleaning habits

Although holidays are about relaxing and having a good time, brushing and flossing are still important.

Dr Tannahill said: “Always remember to pack your toothbrushes, chargers and adaptors, toothpaste, floss and interdental brushes.”

Using water abroad

While some habits are important to keep up, others are best to ditch.

The expert said: “While you are away, use bottled water to rinse your tooth brush if you are in a country where you are advised not to drink the tap water.

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“It’s wise not to rinse your toothbrush underneath a tap, no matter how strong the urge to continue your usual habit.”

Be treat wise

There’s nothing wrong with letting your hair down and enjoying a drink or two, however, using a straw could help your teeth.

Dr Tannahill said: “Avoid swishing drinks around the mouth and holding them in your mouth.

“Avoid brushing immediately after acidic drinks and juices for at least 30 minutes – otherwise the acid softens the enamel and you are brushing it away. 

“Waiting 30 minutes allows the pH in the mouth to stabilise and the enamel to remineralise.”

Don’t rinse your mouth out after brushing

The expert recommended spitting instead of rinsing – whether you are abroad or at home.

She added: “Rinsing after brushing removes the key protective ingredients in toothpaste.

“This also really helps if you’re in a country which has warnings about drinking tap water.”


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