Think before you drink
At this time of year there is always a lot of talk about Dry January and the benefits of reducing or cutting out alcohol. Like most people we enjoy the occasional drink, however making small changes to when, how and what you drink can make a real difference.
The UK Chief Medical Officers’ guideline for both men and women is not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week on a regular basis. With excessive alcohol consumption being a significant risk factor associated with mouth cancer, reducing alcohol is a positive step to improving your dental and overall health.
What’s your tipple?
The type of alcoholic drink you choose can also be a factor in how it affects your dental health. Some drinks are more acidic such as wine, beer and cider – whereas spirits are higher in alcohol and mixers tend to contain more sugar. Try choosing lower sugar, drier drinks to help to protect your smile.
Timing is everything
One of the often-forgotten concerns related to alcohol is that when we are drinking, it tends to be over a period of several hours. For your oral health this can be very damaging as every time we drink, the low pH, or acidity level, in our mouth leaves teeth vulnerable; acids start to eat away at the protective enamel barrier and can cause decay.
To help reduce the acid attack – and increase the level of saliva which helps to neutralise the acidity - drink plenty of water, try chewing sugar free gum and make sure you give your teeth a thorough clean before going to bed.
It can seem daunting to make changes to your lifestyle and habits. However, making small changes can have a significant impact and means you can celebrate your achievements and keep up the momentum.
Whether it’s reducing alcohol, doing more exercise or cutting out sugar, try these top tips below to help you to achieve a permanent lifestyle change this year:
- Start with small changes; replace your evening glass of wine with a soft drink 1-2 times a week, or replace with a white wine spritzer to reduce the alcohol and sugar content.
- Keep a diary; if you are aiming to reduce the number of units of alcohol you consume, keep a note of when and how much you drink as a reminder and to help you identify where you can make positive changes.
- Write your goals down; there is something very powerful about writing down your goals, keep your list somewhere you can see it to remind yourself and keep you on track.
- Recognise your successes; making positive changes to your lifestyle is a great achievement and part of the process is celebrating the milestones, whether it is the first time you run for 30 minutes non-stop or completing your first triathlon.
- Be prepared; often we use ‘lack of time’ as the reason not to make changes, so plan your time so that you can achieve your goals. When you visit the supermarket, buy healthy snacks instead of refilling the biscuit tin.
Good luck with your lifestyle changes!
If you have any concerns or would like some advice to improve your oral health, please speak to our friendly team to book an appointment to discuss your concerns with a clinician. Please call us on 01428 723179 - or book online here