The holiday season means that you’ll be surrounded by plenty of tempting treats. While these goodies might be tasty, your mouth won’t appreciate the damage they can do to your teeth. Instead of finding out that you’ve developed a cavity or two at your next appointment with your Mansfield MA family dentist, avoid foods and drinks that are bad for your teeth and substitute them with healthier alternatives this holiday season.
1. Candy Canes
Candy canes and Christmas go hand-in-hand, but leave these sweet peppermint treats hanging on the tree. Candy canes take forever to eat, and while they’re in your mouth, they coat your teeth with high levels of sugar. Bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugar and produce acid, which increases your risk of cavities and erodes tooth enamel. Since enamel serves as a protective layer on your teeth, you really want to keep it as intact as possible. Keep in mind that hard candies, which also pop up in candy dishes during the holidays, are just as bad as candy canes.
2. Anything with Caramel
If you don’t want to kick off 2015 at your Mansfield MA family dentist having cavities filled, stay far away from caramel. Whether it’s on popcorn or in Christmas cookies, caramel is among the worst foods for your teeth. Caramel is basically sugar in a gooey form that coats your teeth and sticks to them. This wears away tooth enamel and raises the risk of tooth decay. Avoid other sticky sweets as well, such as peanut brittle.
3. Sugary Baked Goods
This is a tough one, especially if you have friends and family members who love to bake. Sugary baked goods, including Christmas cutout cookies, brownies and cakes, have high amounts of sugar, which isn’t good for your teeth. Even the dried fruit in fruitcakes has a high sugar content. Small pieces of these starchy treats can also get caught between your teeth and sit there for a long time. If you do indulge in these, brush and floss right after eating them.
4. Carbonated and Sugary Drinks
Think twice about pouring a glass of eggnog or sipping a cup of hot cocoa for Christmas. These drinks are loaded with sugar, leading to a higher risk of tooth decay. That risk becomes even higher when you toss a few marshmallows into your cocoa. Instead, treat yourself to a cup of hot green or black tea or a cold glass of milk. Tea helps kill harmful bacteria in your mouth, while milk contains calcium to help your teeth stay healthy.
5. White Wine
If you plan on indulging in a glass of wine or two at your holiday feast, opt for red wine instead of white wine. Red wine might help prevent tooth decay by getting rid of bad bacteria in your mouth. White wine, on the other hand, has a high acidic content that can erode the enamel on your teeth, leaving them more vulnerable to damage.
Foods to Focus On
So, what can you eat this Christmas? While the foods and beverages on the forbidden list often appear as holiday treats, there are plenty of tasty alternatives you can enjoy. The following foods are great ones to eat this season for strong, healthy teeth:
- Cheese: Nibbling on cheese boosts saliva production, which helps lower your risk of tooth decay. Saliva also helps keep tooth enamel in good shape. Your body uses the calcium in cheese to keep your teeth strong and healthy, too. Cheese also lowers the pH balance in your mouth, which can help prevent cavities.
- Vegetables: Vegetables that are rich in fiber, such as broccoli, also increase saliva production and provide protection against cavities. Broccoli has the added benefit of containing vitamin A, which helps keep tooth enamel strong. You can also munch on carrots for an extra vitamin A boost.
- Nuts: Snacking on nuts rather than sweets can do your mouth a world of good this holiday season. Nuts contain healthy fatty acids that can help prevent gum disease, according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Just make sure you use a nutcracker to open them instead of your teeth.
Holiday Tips for Healthy Teeth
If you do decide to eat foods that aren’t great for your teeth, try to do so only at mealtimes instead of snacking throughout the day. Make sure you brush your teeth afterwards as well. This helps limit the amount of damage these foods can do. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day during the holidays also helps your teeth by washing harmful bacteria away.
Don’t forget to practice good dental care in the new year as well. In addition to brushing, flossing and avoiding foods that are bad for your teeth, schedule routine cleanings and exams with your Mansfield MA family dentist.
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Posted in: Dental Health and Wellness