Guess who loves eating delicious holiday treats as much as you do? Family? Of course. Friends? Yup. Kids? You bet. Guess who else? The bacteria in your mouth.
Here are a few simple tips when eating at holiday meals, get-togethers, and parties that can minimize damage to your teeth and gums and keep you and your loved ones’ dental work intact.
Eating and drinking sugary foods and drinks for prolonged periods of time can increase your chances of gum disease and tooth decay. Now, while it would be ideal for our health and teeth to avoid certain food and drinks altogether, most of us want to enjoy the holidays. Holidays can be a time to relax, splurge, and enjoy. However, a little preparation can go a long way in managing dental health and damage control. Here are some things you can do to help you enjoy the holiday season without destroying your teeth:
- Eat sweets WITH (rather than after) your meal. The excess saliva your mouth naturally produces when you are eating a meal will help wash away sugar, so it doesn’t linger on your teeth.
- Drink plenty of water. Water cleans the mouth and produces saliva that deposits essential minerals that build tooth enamel. Water also keeps gums hydrated and washes away food particles from teeth.
- Fruits, such as apples, strawberries, and kiwis, scrub your teeth when you eat them. When the natural fibers of the fruits combine with saliva in the mouth, they help wash away food particles and stain-causing bacteria.
- Crunchy vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and cucumbers can help clean your teeth and gums by removing food particles that can build up into plaque.
It’s no surprise that sweets are not recommended when it comes to protecting your teeth, but some, while they may taste very nice, are particularly naughty.
Be especially careful with:
- Candy canes – These tend to linger on your teeth for a long time
- Peppermint bark – If your teeth are fragile, this treat can send you right to the dentist. Try breaking it into small pieces and then dip the pieces into milk, coffee, or tea to soften.
- Crunchy Christmas cookies – See the previous tip about Peppermint bark.
- Caramels, taffy, peanut brittle, and pecan pie – The stickier the treat, the more damage it can do to your teeth.
- Popcorn – Be careful of kernels.