The holidays are a time for laughter, cheer, and good eats. Unfortunately, good eats can also be hard on your teeth. There’s a reason that people tend to gain weight over the holidays, and it mostly has to do with the foods we consume in our festive celebrations. These foods aren’t only doing a number on your waistline, they’re also hurting your teeth.
Peppermint bark, spiked eggnog, candy canes, and other Christmas goodies are horrible for your tooth’s enamel. With the rise of our food intake over the holidays, the bacteria in our mouth also get to celebrate Christmas. Today, we’re going to talk about foods that you should avoid over your holiday festivities, as well as tell you about some foods you can enjoy guilt free.
Foods to Celebrate
There are a lot of traditional Christmas foods that are horrible for our teeth. Luckily, there are also some tasty and rich Christmas foods that you can partake in:
- Cheese. Who doesn’t love a good cheese platter over the holidays? Make your family the perfect cheese platter and dig in guilt-free. While not the best for your waistline, cheese can be incredibly good for your teeth. Cheese, like most dairy, is rich in calcium, so it’s effective at balancing the pH in your mouth and reducing acid damage. This balance is what makes wine and cheese pair so nicely together. The basic nature of the cheese offsets the acidity of the wine.
- Nuts. Be wary of eating whole nuts, because they can make your teeth susceptible to cracking. However, chopped nuts are great for your teeth! They have a lot of vitamins and minerals that are vital to keeping your teeth and gums healthy. The fiber also works as a natural scrubber to rub away plaque and germs.
- Vegetables. The holidays are a great time to snack on vegetables and dip. Make your family a broccoli and carrot tray to counterbalance the sweets they’ll be choking down. Vegetables have a lot of Vitamin A, which is essential for strengthening your teeth’s enamel. Not to mention, like nuts, raw vegetables use their natural fiber to scrape away sugar and bacteria.
- Turkey. Turkey is a holiday staple at most Christmas dinner tables. Don’t feel ashamed to load your plate down with turkey this Christmas and absorb its protein and phosphorous. Protein is a good way to reduce tooth decay and keep your teeth healthy because the bacteria in your mouth doesn’t thrive on protein packed food.
Foods to be a Scrooge Over
There are a lot of traditional Christmas foods that your teeth are going to wish you’d dodged. While it would be impossible to list all of them one-by-one, I’ll give you an idea of the primary cavity causers, and some dental hygiene tips to focus on this Christmas.
- Sticky food. A lot of classic Christmas treats are sugary, gooey cavity causers. Sugary food that sticks to your teeth leads to tooth decay faster than those that can be easily washed away with water. With that being said, this Christmas you should avoid things like Caramel Corn or anything with caramel for that matter. Bacteria will feed off of the sugar that gets left behind and decay your teeth. Candy Canes, peppermint bark, and all hard candy fall under this category. Bacteria feed off of these foods like an all you can eat buffet.
- Sugary Christmas drinks. You probably already know that sugary food and carbohydrates cause tooth decay and cavities. Amongst all the revelry of Christmas time, a lot of people forget that tooth decay isn’t limited to food. For better dental health, you can try and cut back on Christmas drinks like hot buttered rum, eggnog, and hot cocoa. These holiday classics are teeming with fat and sugar. You should also be wary of consuming too much wine or sparkling cider.
- Saltines and crackers. With all the soup and oeuvres served around the holidays, there’s typically a plethora of saltines and crackers. Saltines can actually be harder on your teeth than candy. Saltines are made out of overly processed starch that softens and gets stuck in the ridges of your molars. It’s easier for bacteria to snack on these starches over a longer period of time, continually subjecting your enamel to acids, instead of it only hitting it with acids once.
Dental Tips to Indulge In
There are a number of dental health measures you can take that’ll soften the blow of any sweets that you decide to indulge in this Christmas. Add these tactics to your regimen:
- Rinse with water. When you’re running around going to holiday parties this year, it can be hard to find time to brush your teeth in between. When you can’t brush, you should try to rinse away any food particles and bacteria with plain tap water.
- Bring floss. During the holiday break, you’ll probably be partaking in lots of snacking. Part of being prepared for this snacking means keeping some floss in your pocket to get the turkey morsels from between your teeth. Tooth decay begins when you leave food between your teeth.
- Brush after eating. Just as you should keep floss around, you should also try to bring a toothbrush to brush away food and plaque after eating. If you consume a lot of acidic food during the holidays, try to wait at least 30 minutes after eating or drinking. Acid makes your enamel soft and brushing right after can destroy your teeth.
Use your extra time over Christmas vacation to brush, floss, and rinse your teeth with fluoride. Over the holidays, you’ll probably have extra time to relax in your morning and evening grooming habits. Use this relaxation to truly enjoy your 2-3-minutes of brushing and flossing. If you have children, you can use this extra time to instill good dental habits in them.