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The holiday season is in full swing, and we all know what it feels like to be surrounded by tasty treats at every turn. There are so many sweet things to love about the holiday season, from candy canes to Christmas cookies and cakes. Unfortunately, many of your holiday favorites present a real risk for your dental wellness. When consumed often or in excess, Christmas treats can quickly lead to New Year’s cavities.
Keep your family’s mouth healthy and happy throughout the holidays by avoiding these foods and beverages that are damaging your teeth, and substitute them with healthier alternatives this season.
The Worst Seasonal Snacks for Your Family’s Teeth
Without even realizing it, you may be wreaking havoc on your children’s teeth with these snacks that you may not even realize are pretty unhealthy.
A freshly made pie is one of the best parts of any holiday meal. With or without whipped topping, the soft texture is unlikely to do any damage to your dental work or teeth. However, not all pies are created equal. For example, eating a homemade pecan pie can lead to a cracked tooth or damage to your gums because of the occasional shell pieces.
Fudge and Divinity
Softer types of holiday desserts certainly aren’t the worst holiday offenders for your teeth, but they’re often still packed full of sugar.
Fudge and divinity fall into the “not so bad for your teeth” category, especially if your fudge is free of nuts. Even though they’re both a tad bit sticky, the smoother texture means that once you eat it, it’s unlikely there will be much of it stuck to your teeth afterward. We recommend rinsing your mouth well with water after snacking on a piece of either treat to help wash away left-behind sugars that can lead to decay.
Seasonal Dried Fruits and Fruit Leathers
While fresh grapes and plums are considered good holiday snack choices, they quickly turn from hero to villain if these fruits are dried. Although often considered a healthy choice, dried fruits like raisins, mango, and apricots are no better than eating a sticky, chewy caramel. When fruits are dried, the sugar becomes highly concentrated, and the gummy texture clings to teeth as much as a piece of candy would.
Like dried fruits, fruit snacks are packed with non-soluble cellulose fiber, which can bind and trap sugars on and around the tooth, making it worse than candy. These fruity little snacks may be convenient, but they’re not a healthy option.
Foods High In Starch
Many starchy foods, including white bread, potato chips, puffs, and pasta, are easily lodged between teeth and crevices. While they may not initially taste sweet, the starches quickly begin converting to sugar almost immediately after being consumed.
Carbohydrates turn to sugar almost immediately, and the bacteria in your mouth feed on these sugars, creating dental plaque in their wake. The more often you eat holiday cookies, the greater your chances of seeing sticky plaque buildup across your smile. The good news is, it’s easy to brush away plaque while it’s still soft. If you’re mulling over your dessert choices at your office party, a cookie or other baked item is acceptable for your teeth and dental work so long as you brush and floss when you get home. Plaque only needs 24 hours before it calcifies permanently into tartar buildup.
Acidic Fruits and Drinks
Citrus fruits may be a great way to add subtle and natural flavoring to water, teas, and a tasty holiday punch, but these fruits contain powerful citric acid. Oranges, lemons, and grapefruit can be a healthy part of the diet, but they should be consumed quickly, preferably as part of a meal, and the teeth should be rinsed with water immediately afterward.
Alcohol causes dehydration and dry mouth. Those who drink excessively may find a reduction in saliva over time, leading to tooth decay and other oral infections such as gum disease. Heavy alcohol use also increases your risk for mouth cancer, so attempt to limit the number of cocktails you have when possible.
When you eat sugary foods or sip sugary drinks for long periods, plaque bacteria use that sugar to produce acids that attack your enamel, the hard surface of your tooth. Most carbonated soft drinks, including diet soda, are acidic and, therefore, bad for your teeth. Caffeinated beverages, such as colas, can also dry out your mouth. If you do consume soft drinks, try to drink alongside a cup of water.
Regular Checkups Prevent Dental Issues
It’s crucial for everyone in your family to have two routine teeth cleanings and exams throughout the year. These exams allow you to be proactive and stay ahead of problems before they become more significant, more expensive issues. Hoffman Dental Care is here to help keep your family’s mouth healthy throughout the holiday season. If you have yet to see a dentist twice this year, schedule your last cleaning and exam for 2021 today.