Tabitha Acret Food and Drinks to Avoid This Christmas Interview

Tabitha Acret Food and Drinks to Avoid This Christmas Interview

The Naughty List: Top Food and Drinks To Avoid This Christmas

The festive season is upon us, which means we are about to welcome an increased indulgence in alcohol, sugary foods, and every other naughty vice! Whilst we should all relax a little and enjoy the festivities, it's just as important to keep our oral health on track. Here's why:

Lollies and chocolate! They're everywhere you turn as Christmas creeps up; on the coffee table, as decorations, the go-to Secret Santa. I'm not saying you can't treat yourself, but maybe think about how many you're having and the timing of them. Reducing the amount of sweets that we eat is an obvious solution, but did you know the time that we choose to eat them is just as important? Instead of snacking throughout the day on sweets, and having the sugar constantly attack your teeth, it is far better to coordinate your sweets intake with another meal meaning your mouth can return to a neutral pH and fight off the excess sugar. Like they say, it's all about balance.

Along with sweets, the Aussie festive season means warm days and balmy nights - BBQS galore. Two foods that may surprise you as being laden with sugar are salad dressings and sauces.

Pre-made salad dressings and vinaigrettes contain approximately 5-7 grams of sugar in just one small serving (2 tablespoons). What you can do, is swap to homemade option, combining olive oil and lemon, and in doing so reduce your sneaky sugar content. Same goes for tomato and BBQ sauce… before you lather that sausage be aware that store purchased sauces contain high amounts of processed sugar. Some BBQ sauces containing 13 grams of sugar in just two table spoons!

Cover your ears, but cocktails are filled with sugar due to the added syrups, liquors, mixers and juices. Whilst I love an Aperol Spritz as much as the next person, it is important to be aware of the high sugar content and limit yourself to just one before switching to a low-sugar mixer.

Some liquors will have up to 33 grams of sugar per 30mls! Go out for a fun night with friends but bear in mind you may be consuming your monthly sugar intake in only a couple of cocktails. Enjoy yourself however, be aware of what you are consuming by swapping out the high sugar options for drinks, such as red wine, beer or clear spirits with soda water. Worried about what the red wine might do to your pearly whites? We recommend regularly visiting your dental hygienist for a clean with AIRFLOW Dental Spa Technology to painlessly remove any lingering stains and leave your teeth feeling stronger and brighter.

Beware of the sneaky Tonic water, fooling people since day dot because 1) it has water in the title and 2) it's clear. However, adding a little tonic water to your tipple can be piling on another 22grams of sugar – that's more than some soft drinks!

For those who overindulged and are already feeling the festive hangover, my one recommendation would be to make sure you skip the energy drink as your hangover cure. While you may be drinking it purely for the caffeine hit, it's handy to note that they are filled with up to 29 grams of sugar per serving. You're more than likely feeling worse for wear thanks to dehydration, so drink plenty of cool water and a have cup of tea for your caffeine hit.

The recently launched EMS AIRFLOW® Dental spa means that you can now experience lighter and brighter clean teeth without the pain! No more mess, no more nails scraping like noise on the blackboard and no more cold water. AIRFLOW® is a revolutionary, non-contact form of dental cleaning and prevention. It projects a controlled stream of air, warm water and powder onto the tooth and in hard-to-reach areas to dislodge and remove food, bacteria, discolouration and stains. Goodbye coffee and red wine stains! The high-pressure water/air stream cleans your teeth much faster, efficiently and comfortably than the use of traditional cleaning methods. AIRFLOW® is akin to being at a day spa but instead of beauticians working on your face, your dentist or dental hygienist is gently exfoliating your teeth. With the water in the AIRFLOW® Dental Spa heats up to 40 degrees, it's a positively warm experience.

To experience the AIRFLOW Dental Spa visit to find your closest dental practice. Can't find a practice near you? Recommend your local dental practice here:

Interview with Tabitha Acret, Dental Hygienist at AIRFLOW Dental Spa

Tabitha has 22 years' experience in the dental industry. She graduated from Newcastle University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Oral Health and has since worked in private practice and as a dental educator at Sydney University.

Tabitha has a passion for community dentistry, preventative care and implant maintenance. She has volunteered clinically both within Australia and overseas and volunteers on a regular basis for the Dental Hygienists Association of Australia (DHAA). She is the current DHAA National Vice President, Northern Territory Director and Chair of Continuing Education nationally.

Question: Why is looking after your teeth as important as looking after your skin?

Tabitha Acret: The beauty industry is a multi-million-dollar industry with many people investing in creams, facials, colourings for hair, nails the list goes on but one of the most important beauty appointments you can make is actually with your dental professional. One of the first things people notice when they speak to you is your smile, having the confidence to smile when you meet people makes you and others feel good, a smile makes you more approachable, it makes you look younger. To have a great smile you need to look after your mouth, this includes regular preventative care appointments with your dental professional who can assess the health of your teeth and gums. When we have healthy and pink gums it makes our teeth look whiter. A professional clean at the dental practice with AIRFLOW technology is like a dental spa for your mouth, removing stains, improving the colour of your teeth, and keeping your mouth healthy. When we don't clean our teeth regularly at home and fail to have regular professional preventative appointments your gums can become red and inflamed, sometimes causing bleeding and bad breath. It can also lead to discolouration of your teeth or worse, cavities caused by bacteria.

When you visit your dental professional you not only are looking after your smile but also your health which ends up being one of the best beauty appointments you can make.

Question: How do pre-made salad dressings affect our teeth? What is a good alternative to pre-made salad dressings?

Tabitha Acret: The festive season in Australia means warm days and nights, BBQS and salads but two foods that may surprise you as sugar laden are salad dressing and sauces.

Pre-made salad dressings and vinaigrettes contain approximately 5-7 grams of sugar in just one small serving (2 tablespoons). What you can do, is swap to homemade option, combining olive oil and lemon, and in doing so reduce your sneaky sugar content. Same goes for tomato and BBQ sauce… before you lather that sausage be aware that store purchased sauces contain high amounts of processed sugar. Some BBQ sauces containing 13 grams of sugar in just two table spoons!

Sugar attracts harmful bacteria in our mouth that attacks the hard-out layer of our teeth called enamel. This can then cause a discolouration of the tooth or a cavity.

Question: Why is Kombucha so bad for our teeth?

Tabitha Acret: Many kombucha brands are not fermented traditionally whereby the sugar is reduced, but instead add juice or added sugar. Commercial Kombucha can contain as much as 5 teaspoons of sugar per bottle, which is equivalent to some soft drinks or a glass of milk! Even if you find a kombucha with no added sugars and with a low sugar intake you do have to be careful of regular consumption still due to the acidity of the drink. A brewed kombucha can fall between 2.5-3.5 pH which with regular consumption can cause erosion of the hard-out layer of your teeth called enamel in turn causing sensitivity and increased risk of decay.

Question: Does drinking Kombucha, lemon water or crisp white wine through a straw change the effects on our teeth?

Tabitha Acret: Drinking acidic and sugary drinks through a straw that is placed behind the front teeth can help reduce the effect of the acids and sugar as it decreases the direct contact, however there is still contact with your teeth during the swallowing action. A straw will help reduce the attack but it's important to realise it doesn't take away the fact you are still consuming acidic or high sugar drinks which should be consumed in moderation. It's a good idea to drink a glass of water after consuming any acidic or sugar drinks and use a sustainable straw.

Question: How can we best protect our teeth ahead and during the festive season?

Tabitha Acret: It's boring but moderation is key. The festive season means everyone indulges a little more than usual, so here are some tips to reducing your sugar intake.
Swap milk chocolate for dark chocolate.
Swap dessert for a cheese platter.
Swap premade salad dressings for olive oil and lemon juice mix.
Swap tonic water (which is very high in sugar and is really just a fancy soft drink), for soda water.
When indulging in sweets, eat them with a meal rather than snacking on them to reduce the time your teeth are being attacked by sugar and acids.
Cocktails often contain juice, added sugar syrups and sugary liqueurs. Swap them for lower sugar containing drinks such as wine and spirits mixed with soda water.
After consuming sugary drinks or foods have a glass of water and make sure you don't skip your night time brushing so that you can remove the sugar and bacteria from your mouth before going to sleep.

Question: What are the health implications around not protecting our teeth?

Tabitha Acret: When we don't brush our teeth, fail to clean between them or seek regular preventative care, we have bacteria build up in our mouth causing bad breath, discolouration of teeth, gum disease and decay. If left untreated gum disease can progress and your teeth can become loose, they can become so loose they need to be removed. If decay is left untreated you can get holes in your teeth, dental pain, and it can also lead to the need for root canals, expensive restorative work or eventually the loss of teeth.

Along with the obvious dental issues there are also verified links between oral health and our overall systemic health. Gum disease has been linked with an association to cardiovascular disease, stroke, preterm births, diabetes, erectile dysfunction and Alzheimer's. Oral health is an integral part of our overall health and it's important it's given the attention it needs.

Question: What is the difference between a hygienist and a dentist?

Tabitha Acret: Dentists and dental hygienists work together as a team to help improve the oral health outcomes of their patients and the community. Their roles within a dental practice are quite different. A dental hygienist's main role is to prevent disease and motivate patients by showing correct home care, and providing preventative treatment such as using the AIRFLOW technology to professionally remove bacteria from the teeth and gums. A dentist performs the restorative work, as well as being able to do everything a hygienist can.

A dental hygienist is highly trained and can spend longer with each patient to provide them with better treatment and outcomes. Together with the dentist, both parties work as a team to make sure your gums are healthy and you have good foundations before any restorative work is provided.

Interview by Brooke Hunter
Article by Tabitha Acret
Photo by Miroslava on Unsplash


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