"Sugar is one of the main causes of tooth decay, and although most Easter eggs contain a lot of it, there are ways to minimise the potential damage to teeth," says Dr Paul O’Dwyer, group clinical advisor at Dental Care Ireland.

Ahead of the cycle of sugar rushes and crashes over the Easter break, here are six ways to protect your teeth this Easter...
 
1. Save treats for after dinner 
Instead of grazing on Easter eggs, biscuits or sweets throughout the day, enjoy some chocolate as dessert straight after a meal. Saliva production increases during meals, which helps to rinse away sugary food particles and can reduce the risk of cavities.
 
2. Don’t let it linger
As well as frequency of snacking, the length of time sugary food stays in your mouth can affect tooth decay. Avoid treats that tend to linger in the mouth, such as hard or sticky sweets, as they will do the most damage. The dried fruit in seasonal favourites such as hot cross buns is also high in sugar and likely to stick to teeth.
 
3. Wash it down with water
After eating Easter treats, it is important to drink plenty of water to rinse away the sugar. The water will help to dilute any acid attacks caused by sugary snacks.
 
Where possible, avoid fizzy drinks and also fruit drinks and smoothies that can often be viewed as healthy but tend sometimes to be high in sugar and bad for your teeth. 

Easter eggs
"Eating Easter treats in moderation is important, but frequency and timing of consumption is also key when it comes to our dental health."

4. Try a mouth-cleansing snack
Eating crunchy fruits and vegetables such as carrots, apples and celery will stimulate production of saliva, which in turn helps to wash away chocolate and other sugary foods.

Alternatively, a small piece of cheese eaten after chocolate will help return the mouth to its natural acid balance and reduce the chances of developing tooth decay.


5. Remember your routine
As teeth may be exposed to more sugar and acid over the Easter period, maintaining a basic dental care routine at home is key for all the family. Ideally, brush twice per day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, and drink plenty of water.
 
After eating an Easter egg, a good tip is to wait 30 minutes before brushing. Some acidic foods soften your enamel, so if you brush right after eating them, you can risk hurting your enamel further while it is still sensitive.
 
6. Schedule an Easter check-up
The Easter holidays is a good opportunity to schedule a dental appointment if you have not already done so this year. Prevention is better than cure, and regular check-ups will help to avert future problems.
 
Dr. Paul O’Dwyer BDS, MSc is group clinical advisor at Dental Care Ireland, a new Irish-owned network of established dental practices nationwide. For further information, visit www.dentalcareireland.ie