"A lot of the foods and drinks that we enjoy over Christmas tend to be quite acidic. In general, sugary snacks that linger in the mouth, such as hard toffees or sticky sweets, will do the most damage to teeth.
"However, it is also important to be aware of hidden sugars, which can lead to tooth erosion, says Dr. Paul O'Dwyer, a group clinical advisor at Dental Care Ireland.
"The good news is that some seasonal favourites can actually help to minimise tooth decay and combat build-up of plaque."
#1 Say cheese!
Cheese helps return the mouth to its natural acid balance and reduces the chances of developing tooth decay. Even a small piece of cheese can have a positive effect, so go ahead and enjoy that cheeseboard after dinner! (Of course, as with any food, cheese should be eaten in moderation.)
#2 Tooth-friendly turkey
Another tooth-friendly Christmas staple is turkey. Turkey is a great source of phosphorus and protein, both of which can help your body fight tooth decay and keep your teeth strong and healthy.
#3 Strawberry surprise
If a snowy white smile is top of your list this Christmas, you might want to add strawberries to the menu. Strawberries contain an enzyme known as malic acid, which acts as a natural astringent to remove discolouration and whiten teeth.
#4 Try a crunchy snack
Eating crunchy fruits and vegetables such as carrots, apples and celery will stimulate production of saliva, which in turn helps to wash away any plaque. Raw fruits and vegetables are a natural abrasive that can help to keep teeth clean.
#5 Hydrate well
Drinking plenty of water throughout the festivities will help to dilute any acid attacks caused by sugary snacks or drinks. Where possible, avoid fizzy drinks and even fruit drinks or smoothies that can appear to be healthy but often tend to be high in sugar and therefore impact on dental decay.
#6 Wine not?
If you enjoy a glass or two of wine, it is best consumed with food to alleviate potential damage to teeth. Both red and white wine can stain teeth so be sure to brush well afterwards. If bubbly is your festive drink of choice, you may want to consider adding some ice to help reduce the acid content.
After eating or drinking, a good tip is to wait 30 minutes before brushing. Some acidic foods and drinks soften your enamel, so if you brush right after eating them, you can risk hurting your enamel further while it is still sensitive.
Dr Paul O’Dwyer BDS, MSc is group clinical advisor at Dental Care Ireland, an Irish-owned network of established dental practices nationwide. For further information, visit dentalcareireland.ie