From the moment you start pouring your eggnog and putting up festive decorations, this holiday season can become a month-long attack on your teeth. Coworkers bring in platters of cookies, Grandma bakes sugary treats, and the kitchen always has a jar full of sweet candies. All that sugar and round-the-clock snacking adds up!
Before you choose this year’s stocking stuffers, think about how all the Christmastime goodies put your teeth at risk for cavities and gum disease.
Did you know sugar and trapped food particles get broken down into acid? This acid causes cavities and can harm your gums. In about 24 to 48 hours, the plaque formed by bacteria in the mouth will harden and start turning into tartar. Even biting down on hard candy can fracture or chip your teeth—be careful!
Your normal oral care habits may not be enough to handle all the snacks throughout the day. This is why it is important to choose holiday foods that aren’t harmful to your teeth. Give family and friends a joyful season by putting the right treats in their stockings.
The Best Holiday Treats for Your Teeth
Some holiday snacks are relatively beneficial for your dental health. Focus on these foods when setting out treats or stuffing stockings:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables: High-fiber foods help your mouth produce saliva and wash away food particles before problems start. The nutrients and high water content also help with natural cleaning, so pop an orange into each stocking instead of caramels!
- Dark chocolate: Pick dark chocolate bars with high amounts of cocoa (and antioxidants!) instead of milk chocolate, which has more sugar.
- Xylitol candy & gum: Sugar-free products tend to be easier on the teeth, and the natural sweetener xylitol actually prevents sugar particles from turning into acid by blocking the growth of bacteria.
- Powdery sweets: Sweet Tarts, Smarties, and Pixy Stix dissolve more quickly so the sugar doesn’t linger on the teeth as much as chewy candies.
Avoid the Damage of Holiday Treats
Keep your teeth healthy this holiday season by avoiding at least some of the sugary foods we know you’ll be around. If you do decide to indulge in chewy or sticky candy, make sure to rinse your mouth with water after every snack. Floss every day and brush three times per day, and when you need to, carry a toothbrush or floss to holiday parties.
Here are some ideas for improving your snacking at gatherings:
- Choose chocolates and candies without caramel—nougat and malted milk filling are better choices!
- Enjoy peppermint snowball cookies or dark chocolate peppermint bark instead of sucking on candy canes.
- Drink water when you have mulled wine, eggnog, or other beverages that are sugary or acidic.
- Place out vegetable trays instead of or with all the holiday sweets.
It’s impossible to avoid the seasonal treats entirely, but that’s okay! You can still take good care of your oral health even while enjoying sugary snacks. Just remember to rinse and floss, and don’t forget to brush while traveling and enjoying social gatherings.
This holiday season is a great time for a professional cleaning. Come see us at My Family Dentistry and schedule a visit.