Holiday Food and Wine: Dental Do’s & Don’ts
As Thanksgiving approaches, so do the parties, which continue on through New Year’s. The holiday season brings with it many festive gatherings filled with indulgent food — rich coffee, red wine, decadent candy, the list goes on. Even though a season of festive, irresistible treats can take its toll on your teeth, you shouldn’t feel the need to abstain if you’re in the know on how to combat smile sabotages and how to avoid that “you’ve got something in your teeth” fate. Below are some tips and myth-busters from Dr. Irwin Smigel on how to keep your teeth white and bright throughout the holiday season.
- Choose red wine! Contrary to common belief, white wine can actually stain teeth worse than red wine. The high acidity in white wine makes teeth more susceptible to stain from tea, coffee, and anything else you eat or drink at the same time that has color. Typical teeth-stainers include ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, spaghetti sauce, and all berries.
- Drink water and eat bread! Drinking water in between sips of white wine and while eating colored foods will help offset the effect of the stains. To remove the temporary stains that appear immediately after drinking wine, it is best to rinse your mouth with fresh water and eat bread. These two steps reduce the acidity in your mouth.
- Find the strawberries at your next party. One of the best natural at-home whiteners is strawberries, since the malic acid in strawberries act as an astringent to remove surface discoloration. The ingredient – which gives the fruit its sour taste – is found in strawberries as well as grapes, and it is most effective when the fruit is just ripe, since malic acid declines as fruits ripen.
- Carry around sugar-free gum. Chewing sugar-free gum after meals stimulates saliva flow, which acts as a natural detergent to remove some of the stains on the teeth. Even simply rinsing with water if nothing else is available will remove some of the stains.
- Another myth-buster – brushing your teeth immediately after eating or drinking acidic foods is actually not recommended. Acids and sugars in things like wine weaken tooth enamel, and brushing can erode the enamel even further. Instead, wait about 30 minutes after eating or drinking to brush. Dr. Smigel says the best options are a breath freshener or gel, and recommends the Supersmile Quikee, a pocket sized on-the-go, no brush/no rinse whitening gel and breath freshener. This will reduce stains, and polish teeth immediately after the meal/glass of wine without the need for brushing.
- Brush your tongue. Most people don’t realize that 80% of most bad breath is caused by bacteria left on the tongue. But, brushing your tongue with a toothbrush does not remove the bacteria, it just moves it around the mouth. Using a tongue cleaner is the most effective way to kill the bad breath that causes plaque and gum disease, Dr. Smigel says.
Dr. Smigel is the founder and president of the American Society for Dental Aesthetics. He is also known worldwide as the Father of Aesthetic Dentistry, and is the creator and international spokesperson for Supersmile teeth whitening products.