From alcoholic beverages and hot apple cider to candy canes and holiday cookies, the holiday season is filled with sugar and a variety of food items that can wreak havoc on your teeth. While there’s no reason why you can’t indulge this season, here are some tips for enjoying in moderation and reducing your risk of damage to your teeth:
Watch What You Eat and Drink
A healthy diet of vegetables and low-acid fruit is good for your teeth, but during the holiday season, temptations, to eat sugar and other food and drink that leads to tooth decay, are high. Be careful when indulging in the following:
Candy: From candy canes and caramels to old-fashioned candies, these are holiday favorites that are filled with sugar, can chip teeth, and in some instances, remove dental work like crowns. It’s okay to enjoy a few pieces of candy, but try to avoid chewing it.
Crunchy Snacks: Who doesn’t love to sit down with a bowl of popcorn or chips and watch a holiday movie with family? Crunchy snacks are satisfying, but can hurt your teeth. Avoid eating popcorn kernels and consider substituting with a few carrot sticks.
Alcohol: Alcohol is dehydrating and lead to dry mouth, which overtime, can result in oral infections like gum disease. The sugars in liqueurs and acid in wine can do damage to the enamel on your teeth. Don’t forget to drink water in between and after drinking any alcoholic and sugary drinks.
Soda and Coffee: We all know that soda isn’t the healthiest beverage, but the sugars are harmful to your teeth and sugar draws in bacteria. Spritzers and sparkling water are nice alternatives. Coffee and tea lovers may be surprised that these caffeinated morning “must haves” can dry out your teeth if you drink too many cups and when your teeth dry out, they become “sticky” and increase risk of stains.
Protecting Your Enamel
Enamel, which is like a protective shell over your teeth, is essential to the health and longevity of your teeth. Sugars and acids are some of the biggest culprits when enamel starts to erode. Some signs, that the quality of your enamel is worsening, includes sensitivity to temperatures and even pain. Counteracting acid with adequate water intake, and even eating cheese or drinking a glass of milk, can slow down acid’s damage to your enamel.
A Few Tips to Keep in Mind
During the holidays, you may spend a lot of time away from home, eating dinner at a friend’s house or going to a party at the office. While you should always try to stick to your brushing routine (experts recommend brushing after every meal), it may not be convenient. Carry a travel size toothbrush and toothpaste. If not, consider carrying around some flossing picks to keep your teeth free from excess food particles that may get stuck. Drink water in between and after meals, especially when eating foods rich with acids and sugars.