The holiday season is upon us! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or just the New Year, you will be bombarded with sweet treats, snacks, and drinks from now until January. We definitely aren’t saying that you should stay away from tasty holiday treats like pumpkin pie, eggnog, or cookies, but there are a few things you can do to maintain healthy teeth.
How Holiday Foods Impact Your Teeth
Water with Decadent Drinks
Punch, eggnog, sweet wine, and cocktails are part of many personal holiday traditions, but they also contain a lot of sugar. You can limit the potential damage by having a glass of water handy to swish around your mouth after you finish your drink (plus, you stay hydrated!). You can also use a straw to limit the amount of the drink that comes into contact with your teeth.
You know the kind, anything with caramel or toffee. They taste great, but you should be very careful if you’ve ever had any dental work like veneers or crowns for your teeth. Proceed with caution when eating anything sticky like caramel because it can accidentally pull your dental work loose. On top of that, bits of chewy sugar will easily get stuck between your teeth and won’t easily come out. Just make sure to floss later that day because swishing water and brushing likely won’t be enough – you could cause cavities!
Holiday cookies, festive sweet bread, and pie are all tasty, but also full of sugar. Even simple baked pastries are full of carbohydrates which break down into sugar. Just remember to drink water after your snack and be sure to brush and floss your teeth later that day.
Peppermint candy and candy canes are very popular around this time of year. Unfortunately though, they have all of the potentially damaging qualities we just listed. They are made of sugar, they are sticky, and they are hard. Just remember to chew gently, drink water, and brush your teeth at the end of the day. Try to avoid holding them in your mouth for long periods of time!
Why Is Sugar So Bad For Teeth?
We’ve already learned that many holiday beverages, snacks, and candies have lots of sugar. We also know that sugar causes cavities, but how? Actually, sugar doesn’t necessarily cause cavities! It does however create the perfect storm, forming the perfect environment ideal for cavities to occur.
All of our mouths have good and bad types of bacteria. Our good bacteria helps maintain a healthy mouth. Bad bacteria unfortunately feeds off of sugar found in the foods we eat. If we don’t maintain proper oral hygiene, that bad bacteria eats leftover sugar and leaves an acid behind which erodes tooth enamel. When enough of a tooth erodes, a hole forms. This is what we call a cavity. Cavities left untreated can worsen over time and may lead to more serious dental complications.
By drinking water, brushing, and flossing regularly, you can reduce the chances of cavities forming. A couple other helpful tips for this holiday season include:
- Eat sweets with your meals, instead of on their own. Your mouth creates saliva when you eat! By indulging in the sweet stuff only during mealtimes, you use that saliva to your advantage to wash away sugar and help balance out the acids that bad bacteria creates
- Look out for toothaches and pains. If you begin experiencing oral aches and pains, it may be a sign you have a cavity. Visit your dentist for a cleaning and check-up to prevent possible tooth loss
- Ask your dentist about flouride treatments. Fluoride promotes long-term dental health and help keep your teeth strong
Happy holidays from Friendly Dentistry! We want you to stay healthy and enjoy the season with your favorite treats and meals. Remember to floss and brush regularly, and give us a call to schedule your next visit today!