How to eat out without damaging your teeth (or missing out on a treat)!

When choosing a restaurant, many considerations will come to mind. It has to be somewhere you know will serve great food, of course, and it must not cost more than is affordable (or, in the case of a real treat, at the very least it won't break the bank). For many of us, we might also avoid anything too fattening. But there's one thing that is often forgotten. What restaurant dishes are best to choose to help you look after your teeth?

Wanting to avoid any surprises when we arrive for our next dentist consultation is naturally a priority. At Toothpick we understand how the temptations of a restaurant menu can get in the way of tooth and gum health. We also know that some of the most damaging, sugary foods can hide in menu items you might think are the healthy option.

Five tooth-friendly recommendations

1. Mediterranean grill

Chargrilled dishes, especially popular in Mediterranean southern Europe, bring out the natural flavour of any meat or fish dish, and the ever-so-slightly blackened edges add a mouth-watering crispness and depth of flavour that simply can't be beaten. This method of cooking also often negates the need for a sauce, often loaded with hidden sweetness. Seek out grilled venison or buffalo with sautéed vegetables, or a tooth-friendly seafood luxury such as cuttlefish or squid.

2. Mexican

Natural sauces such as guacamole and salsa, coupled with plentiful portions of fresh vegetables and salad, make Mexican a perfect choice to avoid piling on unnecessary sugar. Giant taco shells are a feast.

3. Burgers without the bun

Bread rolls are a source of hidden sugar - and crustier loaves are hard work on the teeth, too. Go for a hamburger with onion, lettuce and tomato with a giant mushroom, salad and potatoes wedges - but leave the bun aside.

4. Baked fillets of fish

Salmon with lemon juice, flavoured with dill and soy sauce, is a beautiful combination which provides natural tang and gentle sweetness without the artificial sugar hit of sweet chilli or cheese sauces.

5. Diet drinks - or water

The old advice is sometimes the best: if you're cutting out sugar, the best choice is water – still or sparkling.

Avoiding hidden sugar

Remember that table sauces such as ketchup and mayonnaise tend to have added sugar - and it may be more than you think. Heavy salad dressings are usually sweetened, and honey has the same effect on your teeth. Fruit juice, too, is far from a healthy alternative as far as your teeth are concerned.

Finally, ask your server if there is sugar added to a particular menu item if you're unsure - small changes can greatly improve the tooth-friendliness of your meal, without affecting your enjoyment in the least. Your dentist will thank you for it!