It’s not exactly a closely-guarded secret that sugar and your teeth are not the best of friends.
Around the holidays, however, it’s hard to avoid delicious seasonal foods like candy canes, fruitcake, mulled wine, and gingerbread men.
So, how do you find a balance between enjoying sweet holiday treats and the health of your teeth and gums?
Sweet Holiday Treats: Naughty or Nice?
- Cakes and Cookies: They may be delicious, but the sugars in these holiday goodies can cause cavities and tooth decay, not to mention bad breath. Because they become somewhat sticky when you chew them, particles can end up lodging in your teeth and gums, allowing sugars to break down in the mouth and feeding unhealthy bacteria.
- Candies: Soft candies and chocolates are similar to cakes and cookies with their sticky, sugary one-two punch. Hard or chewy candies can be even worse, because they stay in your mouth longer, giving the sugar more of a chance to damage your teeth. If you have dental work, hard or chewy candies may damage or dislodge your restoration – so avoid the taffy! Also, crunching on hard candies can chip or break a tooth.
- Holiday Drinks: Mulled wine, apple cider, hot chocolate, and eggnog all put in appearances at holiday parties and family get-togethers. All of these drinks contain large amounts of sugar, and wine and cider-based drinks are also relatively acidic, which can erode your enamel.
However, you can moderately indulge in holiday treats if you take care of your teeth. Here are a few things you can do to help keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong:
Enjoy Holiday Treats without Damaging Your Teeth
- Drink lots of water. Drinking water after eating sweets will help loosen food particles and wash away the sugars that remain in your mouth and on your teeth after you eat.
- Brush and floss consistently. Brushing and flossing are always the keys to a healthy mouth, but they’re especially important during the holidays. If you’re at a holiday party and can’t brush, rinse your mouth with water and be sure to brush and floss as soon as you can.
- Chew sugarless gum. Chewing gum is a great way to remove food particles, and sugarless gum with Xylitol also fights the growth of bacteria and prevents cavities. If you’re concerned about the extra holiday calories, you’ll be happy to know that chewing gum may also help you eat fewer sweet holiday treats, sparing your teeth and waistline!
Even diligent oral hygiene doesn’t replace regular checkups, so be sure to schedule an appointment at My Family Dentistry every 6 months. Minor issues can become serious if you don’t catch them early, and your teeth will thank you for it!
What are your favorite seasonal snacks? Let us know in the comments!
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