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 says 93% of people include candy in holiday gifts.
We all know that too much sugar has a negative effect 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.
3 tooth-friendly snacks
Looking for healthy snacks that are good for your oral health? You won’t even know you’re practicing good oral health this holiday season with these three easy and family fun snacks.
Egg Snowmen – Serves 6
These egg snowmen will be a huge hit at your holiday party. They’re adorable, tasty and provide important nutrients to help your oral health. The eggs are packed full of protein and vitamin D, which are essential in supporting tooth health. The carrots act as a natural toothbrush, helping clean plaque off your teeth.
- 6 large hard-boiled eggs
- 6 small hard-boiled eggs
- 1 carrot
- 1 skewer
- Uncooked pasta, such as spaghetti
- Peeling the eggs and chop the carrots into one-half centimeter rounds.
- Next, cut off the top and bottom of each egg so that it can stand up freely. For each snowman, arrange the eggs so that the large one sits at the base, and the small one sits on it as the head. Stick the skewer through the middle of the egg snowman and the carrot slices to form a hole in each. Place the pasta in the hole through the eggs so that it sticks above the top egg. Layer two carrot slices to form a hat and affix the “hat” to the top of the pasta.
- Use the skewer to make a small hole for the eyes, nose and mouth. Use peppercorns for the eyes and mouth and a small piece of carrot for the nose. Finally, add a sprig of parsley on either side for the arms.
Cheese Stick Snowman
Cheese is not only a great source of calcium, it is an antibacterial that helps lower the pH levels in your mouth. Your family and friends will love this idea! Here’s all you’ll need to create a quick and festive treat.
- Mozzarella cheese sticks, still in the wrapping
- Printable hats
- Double-sided tape
- Black & orange markers
- Place a small piece of double-sided tape onto the back of a paper hat and place it on top of a wrapped cheese stick.
- Use black marker to place two dots under the hat for eyes and place 5 dots below to create a mouth (save enough room for a nose). Use the orange marker to draw a carrot nose.
- Cut a piece of ribbon and wrap it around the cheese stick to make a snowman’s scarf. Tie a knot and trim it to an appropriate length.
- Use black marker again, using 3 dots down the center to make buttons.
Grinch Fruit Kabobs
These simple Grinch fruit kabobs are the perfect snacks for your family. They’re simple to make and will be a hit with the kids at your holiday party!
- Large and mini marshmallows
- Fresh strawberries
- Green grapes
- Kabob skewers
- Thread a grape onto the kabob skewer, placing it about one-third from the top.
- Cut a large marshmallow into thirds with kitchen scissors.
- Slide a slice of marshmallow onto the stick above the grape.
- Slice off the top of a strawberry and thread the strawberry onto skewer, large side first, above the marshmallow.
- Top it off with a mini marshmallow.
Did you try any of these tooth friendly snacks this holiday? Let us know how you liked them!
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 2020!