‘Holidays are coming’

December 18th, 2017

With each opening of an advent calendar door, the excitement and anticipation about the Christmas holiday is growing. Every year, there are new signs and symbols that we have all begun to associate with Christmas: think ‘elf on the shelf’ and Christmas Eve boxes. The arrival of the Coca Cola television advert, with its ‘holidays are coming’ slogan has become one of these.

Over recent years, as well as appearing on the television, the Coca Cola lorry has also made visits to towns and cities, inviting the public to visit them to mark the start of the festive season. This year, whilst the excitement about the arrival of the lorry could still be felt in the air, some visitors were eager to ensure that consumers considered carefully their choice to drink this sugary treat. That’s right, alongside the crowds of excited children and families, action groups gathered to warn of the dangers of drinking sugary foods and drinks, and to make others aware of the potential impact of sugar on our health.

As reported by the BBC, concerned individuals and groups in several areas across the UK took action to try and raise awareness regarding the potential health impacts of consuming sugary foods and drinks. As well as having concerns around the impact of such drinks on ever-increasing obesity levels, groups were also worried about the impact of promoting such drinks on our oral health.

Consuming sugary foods and drinks is known to be a significant causal factor in children and adults developing tooth decay. Our teeth are protected by an outer layer of enamel. Under the enamel is the dentine, which covers the central ‘pulp’ of the tooth. The enamel and dentine of a tooth become softened following acid attacks after we eat or drink sugary items. A cavity (hole) will form in the tooth after time, and prolonged acid attacks. When we have sugary foods and drinks between meals, we increase the risk of developing tooth decay: our teeth are under constant attack, and don’t have time to ‘remineralise’ and recover.

In the early stages, tooth decay has no symptoms. However, as it progresses, and cavities form and become deeper, we are likely to begin to experience pain and discomfort. This is because the dentine area of our teeth is sensitive, and may react to different sensations such as hot and cold foods. It may be the case that you need to take a painkiller to manage the discomfort as it worsens. Your dental team will be able to work with you to recognise early signs of decay, and to take measures to prevent it from worsening (such as applying a fluoride varnish), or to repair damage (such as having a filling).

There are many steps you can take to prevent tooth decay:

  • Reduce the amount of sugary foods and drinks you consume, and avoid snacking between meals.
  • Brush your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day (once last thing at night, and at least one other time during the day).
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Brush all the surfaces of your teeth: the inner, outer and biting surfaces.
  • Use ‘interdental’ brushes, floss or tape. These help to remove the plaque and food particles from between your teeth.
  • Keep up your regular dental check-ups.

So, as the run up to the holiday season continues, it’s important to bear in mind your oral health. We will all be surrounded by sweet treats, drinks and food items that we might not normally have, and which often have a high sugar content. It’s important to be mindful of what we are consuming, and to make healthy choices that protect both our teeth, and our waistline.

For an example article from the BBC, please see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-41810436

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