The holiday season is filled with indulgent and scrumptious treats, but these foods can wreak havoc on your teeth. It’s almost impossible to keep children away from every Christmas cookie and holiday candy. However, there are some ways to minimize the risk of developing cavities without spoiling the festivities. In this blog, we’ll outline how to find the right balance of eating tooth-friendly treats that protect your family’s teeth without turning you into the wicked Grinch.
Why sweets and teeth aren’t best friends
Teeth start to decay when the bacteria that naturally live in your mouth starts turning sugars and carbohydrates into acids. The acid eats away at the enamel on the surface of your teeth, which leads to cavities.
A significant cause of tooth decay is eating sugary, sticky foods and drinking sugary beverages. The more sugar and carbohydrates you eat, the more acid the bacteria in your mouth can produce, putting you at higher risk for cavities and plaque build-up. Snacking throughout the day can also increase your risk of tooth decay and other oral issues. It exposes your teeth to harmful acids for an extended period.
Moderation is key
As with everything in life, moderation is vital. It can be difficult (and not fun) to keep children from enjoying holiday cookies, candies, and other sweets. However, eating carb-rich and sugary foods as part of a healthy, balanced diet will significantly reduce the negative impact on their oral health. It’s better to help children choose treats wisely and not overindulge than to try to eliminate treats altogether.
Treats that aren’t tooth-friendly
Some sweets are more damaging to your teeth than others. Sticky treats are particularly hazardous because bits of candy and sugar tend to “stick around” in your mouth long after you’re finished eating them.
Lollipops, candy canes, and other hard candies are also more harmful than other treats because they take a long time to eat. The longer you suck on or lick a candy, the more you expose your teeth to the sugars, increasing the chances of tooth decay.
Tooth-friendly treats you can safely eat
Gingerbread tends to have less sugar than other cookies and baked goods, making it a healthier option all-around. Try baking and decorating your own gingerbread cookies if you want to control how much sugar is in the recipe.
Consider filling stockings with dark chocolate instead of other candies this Christmas. New studies suggest that dark chocolate may help fight cavities, plaque, and tooth decay.
Serve fruit infused water or freshly made fruit juice as an alternative to alcohol and cool drinks.
As an alternative to rich desserts, consider serving a variety of colourful fruits with yoghurt.
Cheese is also a healthy snack option. It’s high in calcium and protein that keep you feeling full longer and are excellent for tooth and bone health. Cheese can help raise the pH level in the mouth and reduce your risk of cavities. Consider setting out a festive cheese platter instead of a plate of cookies this holiday. You can even use cookie cutters to cut the cheese into fun, festive shapes!
Brush after you eat
Encourage your kids (and yourself) to brush their teeth after eating. This can go a long way to preventing tooth decay. Snacking on treats feeds the bacteria in your mouth and lets the acid do its damage throughout the day. Brushing helps reduce the amount of acid in your mouth and keeps your teeth clean.
If you or your children can’t brush your teeth after eating, rinse your mouth out with water to help clean sugar and food particles off your teeth. Doing this reduces the number of sugars and carbohydrates the bacteria can turn into harmful acids.
Contact Smith and Van Lierop Dentistry to schedule regular cleanings, a checkup, or learn more about our services. We hope you and your family have a safe, happy and tooth-friendly holiday season!