What are you looking forward to most this holiday season?
For many of us, it’s those holiday goodies.
Speaking of goodies, there are several foods you should be careful of as you party your way through the end of the year. This holiday season, Summit Dental Center specialists are on smile-care duty. We’ve got your back when it comes to keeping your teeth healthy through December!
What are the worst holiday foods for your teeth?
One of the first things you should understand is that cavities aren’t necessarily caused by lots of sugar, but by lots of time exposed to sugar.
Eggnog is a great example of this.
The milk in eggnog is good for your teeth. Calcium helps strengthen enamel and bone. However, the high sugar content and its gooey texture (which leaves a film over your teeth) are not a great combination. Sipping on sweet eggnog for an hour or two is worse for your teeth than eating a whole bowl of sugar in five minutes.
Bacteria in your mouth thrive on the carbohydrates you eat. The more sugar you put them in contact with, the more cavity-causing acid they will produce. If you do decide to enjoy a glass, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water afterward to lift away some of the sugars.
Keep this concept in mind and you’ll be prepared to make smart snack decisions for your family based on the rest of this list.
This snack comes in some wonderful flavor varieties—some savory, others sweet. Even the sugar-free kind of popcorn, however, still does what popcorn does best: get those annoying kernels stuck in your gums and teeth.
If you aren’t careful, these kernels can trap plaque and trigger an infection in your gums. Flossing afterward can help.
- Candy Canes
A hard candy or two shouldn’t put your smile in any real danger. But licking a giant piece of hard candy for a long time is certainly not the best idea.
Encourage your kids to enjoy smaller pieces of candy they can finish quickly rather than handing them a large classic candy cane.
With baked ham and roast chicken on the menu, stuffing is a very common and crowd-pleasing side dish. It’s also very popular with cavity-causing bacteria.
All that soft bread quickly packs into little fissures and gaps in your teeth. If you don’t get it out quickly, it will start that process of collecting acidic bacteria and wearing down enamel.
- Dried Fruit
Dried apricots, raisins, cherries, cranberries, apples, and many other fruits find their way onto the dinner table. They may sound healthy because, well, they are fruits. But in their dried form, they tend to contain even more sugar than otherwise. Their sticky texture also makes them hard to get out of your teeth.
- Candied Yams (And Anything Else With Marshmallows)
Known by many as simply “sweet potatoes,” candied yams are more than just a plate full of potato. This dish usually packs a sugary punch with lots of added sweeteners such as a marshmallow topping.
Baked to gooey perfection, this dish is very high in starchy carbs that stay on teeth long after it’s eaten. Don’t even get us started on all those melted marshmallows! That messy stuff is just as problematic when found in things like crisp rice treats.
- Caramel Candies
While we’re talking about sticky sweet favorites we can’t forget to mention caramel candies.
A caramel filling makes for a very satisfying and chewy treat, but it’s downright problematic for your teeth, especially if you wear braces. Anyone with orthodontics needs to be very careful about cleaning their teeth in the aftermath of chewing a caramel!
- Mulled Wine or Cider
Letting your teeth slowly soak in the sweeteners and acids in spiced wine is a sure way to erode your enamel. The same goes for mulled cider, which is naturally a better option for kids.
It’s also worth mentioning that alcohol exposure can even be harmful for adult smiles. Red wine will leave some icky stains and any kind of alcohol dries your mouth. Reduced saliva flow limits your mouth’s ability to fight cavity-causing bacteria.
Yes To Decadence, No To Decay!
What can you do to limit the effects such treats have on your mouth?
- Start off by simply drinking more water. Choose water over other beverages, when possible. Drink water along with your meal. As you sip on a glass between bites, you’ll help wash away any stubborn starches and acids and keep your mouth hydrated.
- Swap out a goody for a substitute. If you fill up on fresh, low-sugar, and high-fiber items, you might be able to cut your craving to gorge on sticky sweets. Make such healthy options readily available to your young party goers, as well.
- A rigorous routine of great oral hygiene is going to be your best defense this holiday season and anytime. Work with your kids to make sure they are brushing at least twice a day and flossing if they are old enough to do so. Sneaking a little extra fluoride into the dental diet might also be a good idea.
There’s no need to completely give up on your favorite holiday treats. You can have your cake and candy and eat it, too, just as long as you take good care of your teeth during this season of decadence.
Houston & Pasadena Holiday Season Dental Care
Schedule regular dental checkups to make sure your family is cavity-free for the season. Catch up on fluoride treatments to strengthen your enamel, as well.
We’re sure you’ll agree there’s no place like Ft. Bend County to be home for the holidays. Make Summit Dental Center your family’s source for all your family’s oral health needs, any time of the year!