Holiday Food and Your Teeth

Holiday Food and Your Teeth

Christmas cakes, pies, cookies, and snacks are some of the most enjoyable things about the holiday season. However, these seasonal treats could wreak havoc on your dental health for months to come.

Eating right for your overall dental health means eating in moderation and including a good balance of dairy, meat, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. However, eating balanced meals is not always a possibility during the hectic holiday season. Also, eating moderate portions is a challenge with all the holiday parties, celebrations, and dinners. During the holidays, we tend to snack more than usual too. Open popcorn tins and full candy dishes are on every desk or break room table. With all the sugary sweets and salty snacks at our fingertips, it can be a challenge to keep our teeth clean and healthy.

To keep your smile looking and feeling healthy, your Knoxville family dentist has some recommendations. To understand why snacking can be detrimental to your teeth, it’s important to understand the major cause of cavities. Cavities, or tooth decay, occurs by the breakdown of refined sugars by bacteria, turning the sugars into acid which dissolves tooth enamel. The build-up of the sticky mixture of bacteria and debris is plaque, and constant snacking causes more and more plaque to build up on teeth.

To keep your smile healthy during the holiday snacking season, try choosing snacks like fresh fruits and raw vegetables. In fact, munching on vegetables enhances saliva development which helps rinse the teeth clean of food debris. Fruits and vegetable generally have a high water content which can also help clean teeth and gums. Also, the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables can protect teeth and gums.

If you can’t resist the sweet or salty holiday snack foods, there are some measures you can take to minimize damage to your teeth. If possible, keep a toothbrush handy and try to brush after meals or snacks. If you find yourself without your toothbrush, rinsing your mouth out with water after eating will remove some debris to prevent plaque build-up on teeth.

If candy is your weakness, then choosing candy made with xylitol can be the wise choice and may improve your oral health. Knoxville dentists have reported studies that show that products made with the natural sweetener, xylitol, interrupts the metabolic process of bacteria converting sugar to tooth-decaying acid, thus reducing the likelihood of cavities. In addition to preventing tooth decay, research has shown that xylitol can actually reverse the decaying process on existing dental caries.

Xylitol can be found in products such as chewing gum, mints, and lollipops. After snacking, simply chew a piece of gum made with xylitol to prevent plaque build-up. So, rather than keeping a bag or box of candy at your desk, keep xylitol mints or lollipops handy so that you can snack healthy and take care of your teeth. Also, xylitol candy products make excellent stocking stuffers for the kids.

To maintain a healthy smile throughout the holidays, schedule a cleaning with your Knoxville dentist, Dr. Wes Mullins, and start the New Year out right.

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