In celebration of Valentine’s day and in tandem with our Valentine's Day Ruby and Pearl Deal, let’s turn up the heat with a Valentines-themed blog entry, and go over how your dental health links with your romantic life, as well as some key tips to give yourself the best chance of a swipe right on February the 14th, and maybe even a walk of shame on February the 15th.
So, how does dental health affect your romantic life?
What you look like
It’s quite normal to have some amount of concern for your appearance, no matter how big or small that concern may be. Haircuts, clothes shopping, photo filters, weight loss, skin care, the list goes on - the majority of us like to look and feel the best we can be with what we have.
And even though teeth make up such a small part of your overall appearance, they are one of the go-to points of interest someone will notice when they speak to you.
That can be awkward enough for some, even if their smile is in good condition, but if you add chips, cracks, discolouration, bad breath and misalignment into the mix - it's a recipe for anxiety.
How you behave
Poor dental health and oral hygiene can create hang-ups and self-consciousness. You might give the impression of not being as present and engaged as you could be, due to being in your own head, which in itself can be off-putting to someone, especially if it's a first time meeting like a date.
You may realise you're always looking for an excuse to cover your mouth when you speak to people, avoiding being up close and personal (which is part of the fun) and holding back a smile in a photograph to avoid showing your teeth.
In cases of gum disease, if you are aware of that metallic taste in your mouth from bleeding gums, someone else will be too, not to mention halitosis (bad breath) which can be an immediate turn off.
What you eat
It affects what you can and can’t eat, and reveals your dental dilemmas to others when you may not want them to know. Ice cream and an exposed filling might be a cheap way to renovate the ceiling directly above you, but can be quite the mood killer for you and whoever you’re eating it with.
Below, I've discussed some of the more popular ‘romance foods’, as well as some handy ways to minimise the impact of indulging to your dental health.
Indulgence grows on trees - highly popular and commonly included in gifts for those you’re fond of, many people will have a longing for one of the three main categories of chocolate: Milk, white and dark. Milk and White chocolate are loaded with sugars which are detrimental to dental health and contribute to decay. The darker the chocolate, the lower the sugar content and the higher the cocoa content.
Hot Tip: Dark chocolate is a high cocoa, lower sugar alternative to its more sugary counterparts. Whilst tougher and more bitter than other types of chocolate, it is the healthier alternative if you can handle the bitter kick.
Part of a balanced diet requires fruit, but many fruits contain acids which can have a punishing effect on your teeth in the long term. For example, strawberries - the vaguely heart-shaped fruit implemented all over the world in romantic gestures, are rich in Vitamin C but have high acidity which is harmful to tooth enamel.
Hot Tip: With acidic foods like fruit, it’s a good idea to thoroughly rinse your mouth with water afterwards to remove acidic residue - do not immediately brush your teeth after eating them: citric acids in fruit can weaken the enamel for a short time, so an intensive brushing session straight afterwards can actually do more harm than good.
Commonly associated with romance, celebration or a payday weekend, champagnes and sparkling wines also have high acidity. If you're a fan of mixers, these can be high in sugars which contribute to tooth decay. Spirits with higher alcohol content such as vodka can cause dry mouth, which can increase risk of gum disease, tooth decay and infection, as normal saliva production inhibits these naturally.
Hot Tip: Just like with managing the acidity of strawberries, it’s a good habit to rinse your mouth with water afterwards to neutralise some of the acidic residue coating the teeth. As mentioned above, wait at least half an hour or so before brushing; while strawberries, chocolate and wine may make for a pleasant combination - residue sugars, weakened enamel, and abrasion are poor bedfellows.
Honourable Mention: Sugar Free Gum
The last thing that you want to worry about on Valentine’s Day is bad breath - morning coffee, food at dinner-time and saliva production over the course of the afternoon, your breath can tell a story of your day, and some stories just don’t need to be told, especially to a stranger you barely know.
A travel mouthwash in a purse or backpack can be a handy secret weapon, and if that’s inconvenient, a pack of sugar-free chewing gum keeps your breath fresh, whilst neutralising the acids produced by bacteria. Corsodyl Daily Mouthwash has the added benefit of treating gum disease.
To be extra safe, make sure you brush your tongue as well as your teeth (not too hard, to avoid overly agitating the taste-buds). Brush back-to-front as well as side-to-side to remove bacteria on the tongue.
As always, the guidance provided here is generalist information for the public, but no one can give you better guidance than the professionals, who can inspect your dental health up-close, and provide their expert recommendations based on you as an individual. Why not check out our Valentine's Deals, and get yourself and a lover (or friend) some dental TLC with one of our experts: book online, pick up the phone and call 0161 820 3477, or visit your local practice.