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Holiday Treats: What Sugar Does to Your Teeth

Posted on December 22, 2017 in Education

Keeping teeth healthy during the holidays is a real challenge for many of us. Holiday cookies and candies are everywhere—parties, our workplaces and in our own homes. And more often than not, these delicious snacks are given as gifts. In fact, the National Confectioners Association estimates that 77 percent of people include candy in holiday gifts.

We all know that too much sugar has a negative affect on our waistlines and our teeth. But, you may not know exactly what sugar does to your teeth. Let’s find out and get tips on how to keep a healthy smile during the holidays and beyond.

How holiday snacks affect your teeth

What many don’t know is that it’s not the sugar itself that causes tooth decay. Instead, the sugar you eat reacts with bacteria in your mouth to form acids. Those acids can destroy both your tooth enamel and cause cavities.

And if the holiday treats you’re eating are sticky—like caramels or even dried fruit—the remnants of the foods remain on your teeth longer, especially if you don’t brush soon after eating them.

 

5 tips for holiday eating and brushing

Now that you know what sugar does to your teeth, the next step to good oral health is choosing healthy foods and habits throughout the holiday season. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Choose foods that are good for your teeth. Try to stay away from candies, cookies and dried fruit and opt instead for healthy snacks, like eggs, cheese, fresh fruit and vegetables. Dairy and eggs are a source of vitamin D and calcium that are needed to support bone health and our teeth. Crunching on vegetables and hard fruits like apples help clean our teeth. The American Dental Association has a list of festive and healthy snacks you can try.
  • Eat sweets with meals. If you can’t resist that decorated cookie, eat it with your meal. Eating sweets with a meal helps reduce the amount of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth.
  • Choose water over wine and sweet drinks. Alcohol increases dry mouth, which makes it easier for plaque to stick to teeth. In addition, sodas, sport drinks and juices are high in sugar and acid. Opt for water or white milk instead.
  • Keep up your healthy habits. With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s easy to skip important oral habits. But, they are more important than ever! Make sure to brush for two minutes twice a day and floss regularly. However, wait 30 minutes after eating, especially after eating sugary snacks and drinks. Otherwise, you’ll be brushing sugar and acids throughout your mouth. Instead, rinse your mouth with water right after eating.
  • Visit your dentist if you have concerns. Don’t wait if you are concerned about your teeth or feel you need treatment. Schedule an appointment as soon as you can. Waiting to see a dentist could lead to pain, infection and even tooth loss.

Here’s to happy, healthy holidays

By choosing foods that are good for your teeth and keeping up healthy habits, you won’t have to worry about what sugar does to your teeth this holiday season. Instead, you can enjoy the camaraderie of family and friends.

Everyone at Govani Dental wishes you a happy holiday season and the best of oral health in 2018!