December 21, 2018
Many of us indulge in sweets and other treats at dinners, parties, and other events during the holidays. We’re not a complete Grinch; we won’t ask you to completely avoid them. But try to make smart food choices, balancing out your selection with more nice ones than naughty ones.
No matter what you eat and drink, make sure you brush your teeth twice a day. Brush for at least two minutes each time, and don’t forget to floss too. That will help keep your teeth in great shape. And consider starting off your New Year by scheduling a dental exam and cleaning at our office.
Some popular holiday foods and drinks are really hard on your teeth, while others aren’t so bad. Check out our guide to smart food choices here, and call us at [phone] if you have questions or need to make an appointment.
Veggies, Nuts, and Cheese Make the Nice List
Most holiday buffet tables feature at least some options that are fine for your teeth. We recommend looking for a vegetable tray, a cheese tray, and bowls of nuts. They are all smart food choices.
Raw veggies like carrots, celery, and broccoli are high in fiber and water. Both things are great for your teeth – and for the rest of you too. Many vegetables also contain vitamin C (helps keep gums healthy) and vitamin A (helps build tooth enamel). Eating veggies spurs production of saliva, a natural cavity fighter. It helps rinse away food particles and troublesome bacteria. In fact, you can use veggies as a kind of natural toothbrush by eating some after indulging in less healthy options like cookies and candy.
For many of the same reasons, cooked vegetables are generally a fine choice at dinner. Be careful of cooked vegetables that contain lots of sugar and/or starch, like corn and potatoes. Those substances aren’t good for your teeth. Try to get at least some greens and carrots on your plate.
Cheese is another good choice at the buffet table. It contains lots of calcium and protein, two substances that strengthen your tooth enamel. Nuts are fine too, since they contain substances that are good for teeth, like folic acid and magnesium. Be careful of hard nuts, since they pose the risk of cracking a tooth.
Starch and Sugar Are on the Naughty List
Candy isn’t good for teeth, of course. But some is better than others. Skip the candy canes and other hard and/or sticky candies. They tend to cling to your teeth and/or get caught in them, giving the sugar a chance to cause more damage. Choose chocolate instead. It washes away quickly so is less likely to cause dental problems.
Starchy foods like chips also tend to get caught in teeth, and the starches in them rapidly turn to sugar. Soft breads like rolls may seem healthier than cookies or pie, but they are also high in starch. It’s best to enjoy these foods in moderation.
If you want to indulge in sweets and similar treats – and who doesn’t – do it during a meal or shortly afterward. You’ll benefit from the saliva generated during the meal, which helps wash away bits of food and also counteracts destructive acid produced by bacteria in your mouth.
Your Drink Choices Affect Your Teeth Too
Water is always the best choice for your teeth. It helps rinse away harmful substances. Other popular drinks are problematic.
Alcoholic drinks dry out your mouth. And a lack of saliva makes it easier for bacteria in your mouth to cause cavities. Soda contains lots of sugars and acids. Fight the urge to brush teeth right after drinking a soda. Since the acid weakens enamel, it’s best to wait a while before brushing to lessen the risk of damaging enamel. Dark sodas can also stain your teeth. Coffee and tea can stain teeth too. If you drink coffee and tea, avoid adding lots of sugar.
If you have any questions about smart food choices during the holidays – or any time – call Appalachian Dental Care at [phone].