It’s an exciting season! Many of us are traveling, taking time off from work to visit friends and family, and getting ready to celebrate the holidays. And… one of most people’s favorite ways to celebrate is eating! Shortbread, cookies, rich desserts and salted nuts abound this time of year; even if there’s no snow on the ground, there’s plenty of frosting on our plates!
Unfortunately, while certainly delicious, all that great food can really take a toll on your oral health. Dr. Suess and the team at Clackamas Smiles want to suggest a few moderate steps our patients can take to enjoy their holidays with a healthy smile.
1) Skip the punch
Sugary drinks are plentiful at holiday parties– be they at your office, your aunt’s house, or the neighbors. But foregoing the holiday punch (or soda, or whatever sweet beverage offered) is actually a great way to make a significant dent in your sugar consumption.
The problem with sweet drinks is they often have the harmful combination of both sugar and acid. The acids eat away at your tooth enamel within seconds of imbibing. Sugars feed cavity causing bacteria, whose metabolic byproduct of said sugar is… more acid. When your tooth enamel is compromised by all this acid, cavities form.
Instead of soda, champagne, or sweet holiday drinks, we suggest tooth-friendly drinks with holiday flavor:
- chai tea, which has all the delicious holiday spices with none of the sugar
- red wine, full of antioxidants and boasting microbial properties
- water, a tried and true friend of health and wellness
2) Eat your treats with a meal
No one at Clackamas Smiles has ever been accused of taking holiday cookies from a patient! We support you celebrating with a few gingerbread men or a slice of apple pie, but we encourage you to eat your sweets with a sensible meal, rather than slowly snacking your way through the holidays.
The reason for this is that snacking isn’t just bad for your waistline– it can be bad for your teeth, too. A steady stream of candy canes and chocolate gelt doesn’t give your mouth a chance to recover from the sugar onslaught– while also keeping your oral bacteria flush with food.
After you’ve had a delicious meal full of tooth-healthy vegetables and proteins, then eat your cookies, cake or pie– and be sure to brush afterwards.
3) Be careful with carbs
Even “healthy” holidays snacks often have a pretty big dose of simple carbohydrates– the kind that oral bacteria just love to munch on! Pretzels, crackers, breads, and of course, the less-healthy cookies are all good examples of high carbohydrate foods.
While we are great at watching for plain, run-of-the-mill sugar, carbohydrates are another source of bacterial consumption that can harm our tooth enamel and lead to cavities. Rather than reaching for a bowl of pretzels, we suggest a handful of raw nuts, whole fruit (not fruit juice), or some carrot sticks!
And don’t forget…
The holidays are an easy time to fall behind in your regular appointment schedule. Be sure to stay up to date on your visits with Dr. Suess at your Clackamas family dental clinic!