As the holiday season approaches, the prevalence of sweet, sugary treats is at an all-time high. Overindulgence in foods of all kinds is expected during this time of year but try to remember the impact it can have on both your waistline and your teeth. Learn more about the best and worst treats to watch out for, as well as some simple tips to keep your oral health intact this time of year.
Best Treats for Healthy Teeth
There are so many choices when it comes to holiday snacks and treats. The following are typically the healthiest of the “bad” options:
- Pie: Decadent pies are delicious, and the soft filling and crumbling crust are easy on your tooth enamel. It’s unlikely that you would damage your teeth or gums eating pie, although you should watch for small pieces of the shell if you opt for a pecan pie or another variety that contains nuts.
- Chocolate: Chocolate is a surprisingly healthy treat for your teeth when compared to other selections. The biggest reason for this is that chocolate melts easily, so it naturally dissolves in your mouth quickly instead of getting stuck to the surface of your teeth.
- Cookies: Cookies are another soft holiday treat that can satisfy your sweet tooth without doing too much damage. Gingerbread cookies are one of the best choices, as they contain less sugar than other types.
- Popcorn: Homemade popcorn is crunchy and satisfying. It’s also a fairly healthy option to choose.
- Cheese: Cheese and cracker trays are a popular appetizer or snack found at nearly any party. If you have the option, reach for a few pieces of cheese pull of protein and calcium.
Try to at least rinse out your mouth after you get done eating and brush your teeth thoroughly as soon as possible. Plaque starts to calcify after just 24 hours, turning into tartar that is must more difficult to remove.
Worst Treats for Oral Health
These are some of the worst foods and drinks you can reach for. Try to limit your intake of these goodies.
- Sticky and gummy candies: The problem with caramels and other sticky candies is that you can get bits stuck in your teeth that linger for hours.
- Hard candies: Candy canes and other hard candy varieties are everyone over the holidays. However, if you give in to the temptation of biting down on them, you could do some damage.
- Candied nuts: These hard and crunchy treats are tasty but pose a risk of cracking a tooth and needing expensive dental work.
- Toffee: Toffees have both sticky and hard textures, making them a high risk when it comes to the health of your teeth.
- Sugary beverages: Liquids flow over the entire surface of your teeth, so drinking high-sugar drinks coats your teeth.
The impact of consuming any type of sugar or acid gets worse the longer your mouth is exposed. Having a glass of a beverage in a short time is better than taking small sips of wine or sweet tea over an extended period. The same is true for pacing yourself by taking bites of that dessert throughout the day. You may space out the calories but are wreaking havoc on your teeth.
Every time you eat or drink, your mouth creates byproducts of bacteria and acid. It’s best to give yourself a specific window of time to consume what you want and then brush your teeth afterward to keep the negative side effects at a minimum.
Tips to Keep Teeth Healthy This Holiday Season
It’s natural to want to enjoy the holidays and let yourself splurge once in a while. This is fine, as long as you counteract it by taking exceptionally good care of your teeth.
Watch What You Consume
Some sugar-laden treats and beverages are worse than others. As we discussed above, chewy and gummy candies are some of the worst culprits, but you should also limit the following:
- Dried fruits contain a lot of sugar
- Chips contain starch that creates acid
- Sodas are also full of sugar
- Ice can even harm enamel if you chew it
These all pose a risk to your teeth and can lead to problems with oral health. It’s best to stick with a cookie if you want to sample a delicious sweet.
Avoid Using Your Teeth to Open Presents
This may go without saying, but never use your teeth to bite through ribbon, tape, or string used to wrap gifts. You risk chipping your teeth or damaging the enamel. If you don’t have any scissors nearby, resist the temptation to use your teeth! This is one habit you should avoid at all costs.
Practice Good Daily Oral Hygiene
You need to have a solid oral health routine that consists of daily brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash to keep your teeth healthy. This is especially important if you know you have a party or gathering to attend that serves all kinds of foods and drinks that can damage teeth.
Remember to take good care of your oral hygiene this holiday season. A little effort put into your self care goes a long way to prevent toothaches and cavities that can interrupt your enjoyment of the holidays and result in expensive bills. You may find it useful to pack a dental hygiene kit to keep handy in your purse or even your car. This keeps the essentials on hand, even when you travel.
Drink Lots of Water
Your body needs plenty of water to function as it should. Water is also great for rinsing away food particles that get trapped in the mouth and contribute to tooth decay and cavities. Always drink a large glass of water after eating, or at least rinse out your mouth to help wash away any bacteria.
Schedule Your Post Holiday Dental Appointment Now
Head off any potential problems that may arise from indulging in holiday treats and desserts by scheduling an appointment with your dentist. It’s essential to attend regular check-ups to keep your teeth and gums healthy, as well as to detect problems early. A visit to the dentist after the holiday season is the perfect gift for yourself. Make an appointment today to get a cleaning and oral health check, and set yourself up for a healthy new year.