In India, festivals are considered to be synonymous with feasting! Each festival has a distinct set of delicacies and Diwali is no exception in this regard. The festivities for Diwali typically last five days, during this time temples and other places of celebration are brightly lit. There are various rituals that are performed in these five days including buying new clothes, utensils or gold, exchanging gifts with near and dear ones and decorating the house with rangoli, diyas and candles. Diwali celebrations are incomplete without sweets. From barfi, to halwa to Soan Papdi, all types of sweets are in demand. It is a known fact that excessive sugar can be harmful to our teeth as there is a direct connection to tooth decay.
Eating sugary and acidic food promotes bacterial growth, the bacterial presence in the mouth sticks to the teeth forming a biofilm called plaque. The said biofilm is capable of damaging the enamel which in turn can lead to cavities. When plaque remains on the teeth for longer it accumulates minerals from the saliva and hardens into forming tarts. This can irritate and damage the gums causing gingivitis, tooth decay and other oral diseases.
It is thus imperative to take care of oral health especially during the festive season. The first basic step of maintaining good oral health is brushing teeth properly, twice a day. By brushing correctly every day, one can eliminate the plaque build-up that can otherwise stay between the teeth, gums and tongue. Brushing regularly not just prevents gum disease and tooth decay, but also promotes a healthier lifestyle and a stronger immune system since there are over 120+ systemic diseases linked to oral health.
Follow these oral care tips:
Brushing after a meal
It is advisable not to brush immediately after a meal as teeth are covered with remnants of acidic food, which can weaken the enamel. Sugar and artificial sweeteners are highly acidic foods. Brushing quickly after eating such food, while your enamel is in its weakened state, may damage the enamel. Apart from sweets, other acidic food items include coffee, tea, oranges, grapefruits and lemons.
Brushing is a good habit and one must include it in the daily routine but it is also recommended to floss teeth at least once a day. Flossing is highly recommended during festival times. If the teeth are not flossed properly then the food particles and bacteria may remain trapped. It’s a simple step that not only helps in preventing bad breath but also avoids cavities and gum disease.
Another practice that can help in fighting tooth decay is the regular use of mouthwash. Most mouthwashes contain antibacterial agents which can kill harmful bacteria. Another advantage of using a mouthwash with fluoride is to avoid the demineralisation of enamel.
Get your teeth cleaning done well in advance, the doctor will give you post-care tips that may include abstaining from eating certain food items. Along with cleaning the dentists will also suggest fluoride varnish to be applied on the teeth, this will strengthen the teeth.
Drink lots of water as keeping hydrated allows more saliva production, it is a natural rinser for the mouth. Also, make sure to rinse after eating every meal, even snacks to wash off any acidic buildup.
It is highly recommended that people should follow these steps and also remember that moderation is the key. While it is good to indulge once in a while, one should try not to go overboard. Also, in case one feels any discomfort during the festive time or after, they must visit a dentist and not delay to avoid things getting worse.
(Dr. Mohender Narula is a dental expert, Founder and Chairperson, MyDentalPlan)
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