Healthy Habits for Happy Teeth: Winter Edition

Maintaining good dental health year-round is vitally important to protect your teeth, gums, and overall health. Having a healthy mouth can give you the confidence to smile, talk and socialise with others, eat a varied diet and generally feel good about yourself. As we get into winter, it’s important to consider how changing seasons affect your dental health.

The main dental diseases are tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer. These diseases are largely preventable with good oral care and through developing healthy habits.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is prevalent worldwide and is caused by bacteria that live naturally in the mouth and are found in dental plaque. This sticky biofilm is continually forming over your teeth. Whenever you eat sweet foods, drinks, and starchy foods, the leftovers feed these bacteria, allowing them to thrive, and they produce acid as a byproduct. The acid attacks your tooth enamel, weakening it and increasing the risk of cavities.

Gum Disease

A buildup of dental plaque also causes gum disease, called periodontal disease. The bacteria in plaque infect and inflame the gums and gradually destroy the bone surrounding teeth, eventually leading to tooth loss. Periodontal disease is also linked to serious health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes, since the bacteria can enter the bloodstream via damaged and bleeding gums, negatively impacting overall health.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is often diagnosed late when treatment is trickier, and this is partly why regular dental checkups are so important. Dentists are trained to identify early signs of oral cancer, and a prompt diagnosis and treatment can make all the difference for longer-term survival. 

Maintaining Good Oral Health in Winter

Maintaining a good oral care routine during winter is vital, especially if your teeth feel sensitive to hot drinks or when you breathe in colder air. Tooth sensitivity can indicate a dental problem, such as tooth enamel erosion or gum problems. If tooth sensitivity is an issue, please come and see us as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis, advice and treatment if needed.

When it is cold outside, it is easy to reach for comfort foods that are likely higher in sugars and carbohydrates. If you can, swap these foods out for more fruit and vegetables and choose healthier snacks that help protect your teeth, such as sugar-free yoghurts and cheese. When you have a sugary treat, have it as part of your main meal rather than as a snack so the damage to your teeth is lessened.

Staying hydrated during winter is essential because it helps ensure your body can produce plenty of saliva. Saliva protects oral health, keeping your mouth moist and comfortable, and helps maintain a more neutral pH. Saliva also helps to wash away excess bacteria and loose food particles and ensures you can chew food properly and swallow it more comfortably, aiding digestion.