For many people, particularly children, the perfect Christmas stocking is one consisting of chocolate, sweets and other magnificent sugary treats. But while it may be tempting to cram in the selection boxes, it's a ploy that could give their teeth a nightmare before Christmas.
Sugar-filled mince pies, chocolate selection boxes and fizzy drinks that make up a traditional festive diet are all likely to pose a hazard to teeth during the holidays. Whether young or old, the message remains the same; don't forget about your oral health.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, said: "It is important to be extra vigilant with your oral health over the Christmas period. It is not how much sugary food and drink we consume that is the problem. It is how often we have these. If you think about how much is consumed, and how often, particularly over Christmas and Boxing Day, your teeth don't really get the chance to recover.
"Our stockings will inevitably be filled with to the brim with sweets and other sugar-based confectionary. If this is the case, try and eat them straight after mealtimes rather than grazing on them all day. Your teeth are under attack for up to one hour after eating or drinking, and if you think about how much is consumed, and how often, particularly over Christmas and Boxing Day, your teeth don't really get the chance to recover. Any fruit juice they have should be diluted 10 parts water to one part juice as most are acidic and many contain added sugar.
"The word to remember is moderation. Enjoy the festive period, but for your teeth's sake, try not to overdo it."
Top stocking fillers that make it a jolly Christmas for teeth
- A two-minute timer. These are a fun way to get your child into one of the Foundation's key messages of brushing for two minutes twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste.
- A character-branded toothbrush, some of which have been approved by the Foundation's accreditation scheme, have the potential to make toothbrushing fun for children, which will make them more likely to brush without any fuss.
- Sugar-free sweets and chocolate are great for teeth. Small selection boxes are better than large ones, and remember to limit how often children eat the contents.
- Unsalted peanuts, walnuts and monkey nuts are really good for bone and therefore tooth development. They may not sound glamorous, but they're a great alternative to crisps.
- Cheeseboards. Not only do they make a great gift idea, cheese helps return the mouth to its natural acid balance and help reduce the chances of tooth decay. Chewing on sugar-free gum for around 10 minutes can also have the same effect.