According to charity Addaction, 54% of men and 41% of women are expected to drink over the recommended guidelines at Christmas, and so it is important to raise our patients’ awareness of the increased potential for tooth damage at this time of year.
As we dental professionals know all too well, alcohol is acidic and therefore highly erosive, especially when consumed frequently, in large quantities over an extended period of time. It may also be that the high alcohol intake occasionally causes vomiting, which can exacerbate the damage to the dentition.
To help prevent tooth wear, advise patients to:
1. Drink still water or low fat milk between meals
2. Limit fruit juice to once per day
3. Avoid carbonated drinks
4. Swallow any acidic drinks immediately to reduce contact time with the teeth
5. Use a wide-bore straw to drink acidic drinks to limit the contact time with the teeth
6. Dilute and keep any acidic drinks chilled, as this reduces the damaging low pH potential
7. Rinse the mouth after acidic foods and drinks with water for 15-30 seconds to dilute any remaining acids
8. Snack on cheese or drink some milk following consumption of an acidic beverage
9. Wait at least an hour to brush teeth after consuming any acidic drinks
10. Use a toothpaste that is fluoridated to 1400ppm and low in abrasivity
12. Use a fluoridated mouthwash every day at a different time to tooth brushing, as well as before or after acidic drinks to help limit the erosive potential
12. Chew sugar-free gum, especially that containing xylitol, after drink to help neutralise the acidic environment in the mouth.