As nine in ten of us finalise our overseas holiday plans, new research reveals that it’s a toothbrush which is the most important item we take with us.

In a poll of the most important items to take on holiday, a toothbrush brushed off the challenge of holiday essentials such as sun-cream, sunglasses, a camera and swimwear, to take top spot.

And that toothbrush might be needed because almost one in ten of us rank sweets for the journey as a holiday must-have, with cigarettes favoured by one in 20.1

With more than 58 per cent of Brits paying visits to overseas destinations last year,2 Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, offered holiday-goers some advice on how to care for their teeth while lapping up the sun.

Dr Carter said: “Holidays often mean we end up snacking throughout the day which might be convenient, particularly if we have young children or are on an all-inclusive package, but the frequency of doing so can be harmful to their teeth and have lasting implications. These foods and drinks are potentially okay in moderation but they should be kept to mealtimes only.

Toothbrushes 1“The habit of snacking and grazing in between meals is one that continues to creep into our society. What many of us do not realise is every time we eat or drink anything sugary, our teeth are under acid attack for up to one hour.

“Consuming too many acidic foods, as well as eating more sugary foods and drinks, traditionally associated with summer-time and holidays, can potentially increase the risk of dental erosion and tooth decay. Risks of dental erosion and tooth decay are also increased during the holiday season as eating-habits and patterns often change. It is more likely that normal meal-times are disrupted during the holidays and snacking and grazing increases, which can cause multiple-attacks on teeth throughout the day.

“Many summer foods like vinaigrettes, olives, red wine and ciders are very acidic. Enamel is the hard, protective coating of the tooth, and if it is worn away, the dentine underneath becomes exposed and teeth can look discoloured and become sensitive. Sugars from foods like ice-cream, seaside rock and fizzy drinks stimulate the formation of acids that attack the teeth and destroy the enamel. Tooth decay causes cavities and results in the need for fillings.

“Eating and drinking naturally weakens the enamel on your teeth, and as a result, the British Dental Health Foundation recommends eating three square meals a day instead of having seven to ten ‘snack attacks’. If we do snack between meals, it is important we choose foods and drinks that do not contain sugar, limiting the amount of time our mouth is at risk. Chewing on sugar-free gum containing Xylitol may also help reduce the risk of tooth decay.

The results of the survey have been released as part of National Smile Month, the UK’s largest oral health campaign. Taking place from 18 May to 18 June, the charity campaign sponsored by some of the UK’s leading household names. Platinum sponsors Oral B, Wrigley and Invisalign, are joining the campaign which aims to bring home the importance of developing and maintaining good oral health habits.

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