It’s the most wonderful time of the year … for pies, cookies, candy canes, and hot chocolate! The holidays bring the sweet treats we all love, however, too much of them can be horrible for your teeth in the long run.
Our mouths have germs, called bacteria, that can stick to your teeth and form plaque. Plaque then turns sugar from food and drinks into acids, which dissolve the protective enamel on teeth and create cavities. Excessive amounts of bacteria can also lead to tooth decay and tooth pain.
Thankfully, WhiteWing Dental has some facts and tips to help you protect your teeth while still allowing you to enjoy your favorite holiday snacks. (Side benefit- your smile in holiday pics will look better than ever!)
Some Sweet Culprits to Look Out For
It’s most important to be aware of what holiday candies and treats to try to avoid. Although candy canes can be found on almost every tree and in most mugs of hot chocolate, they are 100 percent sugar, and unfortunately, one of the worst candies for your teeth.
Candies that stick to your teeth and take a long time to chew are also ones to avoid. Gummy candies, dried fruit and caramel all stick around for a while, and can hold acid against the teeth longer than most other treats.
Sometimes it’s all in the name; sugar cookies give themselves away as yummy snacks loaded with sugar and therefore, not friendly for your teeth. For this snack, moderation is key.
When it comes to drinks, apple cider, hot chocolate and eggnog are very popular holiday beverages that also have high sugar content. Drinks with alcohol can also cause your mouth to dry out, which prohibits the production of saliva. Sugar residue can then stay in your mouth longer.
But it’s not all bad news! Now that you’re aware of which treats to either avoid, or take in moderation, there are several things you can do to help your teeth out when you do enjoy your holiday snacks.
Keeping Your Teeth Happy
Your number one tool for preventing sugar build-up is brushing your teeth. Make sure you keep a routine schedule for brushing two to three times a day. It’s a good idea to carry a smaller toothbrush with you so you can brush after you eat sweets.
We know you won’t always have a toothbrush on hand at holiday events or parties, but keep in mind that a simple rinse with water will definitely help. Water will bring the pH levels that went down due to sugar back up. Mouthwash also helps remove sugar and bacteria when brushing your teeth isn’t an option.
Chewing sugar-free gum will produce natural saliva and balance the acid in your mouth. This option is easy to do — and just like mouthwash — will also give you fresh-smelling breath.
Another tip (and reminder) is changing your toothbrush at the start of the holiday season. A powered toothbrush, or one with triple-action or diamond-shaped heads, is a great tool to remove sugar and plaque from those hard to reach places.
If you’ve missed your routine dental check-up, make sure to schedule it as soon as possible! WhiteWing Dental has services from general family dentistry to cosmetic and restorative dentistry, and even specialized sedation dentistry.
Our McAllen family dentist can assess the specific needs of your teeth.
Healthy snacks can satisfy your cravings while reducing damage to your smile. Fresh fruits, like strawberries and watermelons, are nutritious and sweet enough to keep you happy and healthy. Unbuttered popcorn, tortilla chips, and veggies are also great snacks for holiday parties.
Gingerbread cookies tend to have less sugar than other holiday cookies. Fresh-baked also means that you can choose how much sugar goes into your baked treats.
Also, in case we couldn’t love charcuterie boards more, cheese, nuts, and again, fruit, are all great to munch on while you celebrate!
Keep in mind…
Sugary snacks and drinks aren’t the only things that can hurt your teeth during the holidays. This time of year can bring a lot of stress, which can lead to grinding and gnashing of teeth. In turn, this leads to loose teeth, sore jaw muscles, loss of bone support and sensitive teeth. Taking some time to relax and breathe will help reduce stress and tooth damage.
One last thing to keep in mind is present wrapping!
Opening packages and removing tags with your teeth will risk breaking existing fillings and natural teeth. As we decorate and tape presents, avoid using your teeth to cut anything. Your teeth will thank you for taking the extra time to open and cut items without them.
Happy Holidays from WhiteWing Dental!
The holidays are a time to enjoy seasonal and traditional treats with your loved ones. Using these oral health tips will keep your teeth clean, happy and bright well into the New Year. And don’t forget to schedule your regular dental cleanings and exams.
Call WhiteWing Dental’s McAllen family dentists at (956) 686-5577 or our La Feria dentists at (956) 797-3131 today. We work hard to let our patients know we always have their best interests at heart.
From our offices to you – Happy Holidays!