The holidays are filled with family, friends, fun and food. Much of that food is sticky, sugary, and sweet, which can cause cavities. I have listed six tips to enjoy the holidays and reduce your risk of cavities.
When we eat carbohydrates, bacteria in our mouth use these carbs and produce acids. These acids dissolve minerals inside the tooth enamel (a process called demineralization). Loss of these enamel minerals cause a “softening” of the enamel, which is how cavities form.
The more frequently we expose our teeth to carbohydrates, especially the simple carbohydrates we call sugar) the more likely we are to get cavities. So have your holiday sweets during meals or shortly after, and then brush your teeth after that.
Be picky if it’s sticky
The holidays are notorious for not only sweets, but also sticky sweets. Sticky foods will stick to the teeth longer than other types of food and can more easily cause cavities. This occurs because the exposure time to the sticky food is longer. Make sure to rinse with water and brush after eating sticky things.
Limit your alcohol intake
‘Tis the season for egg nog. If you choose to imbibe, try to drink water alongside your drinks as alcohol can dry out your mouth, causing food to stick to the teeth longer and increasing the chances for cavities to start forming.
Take it easy on the hard candies
Some people chew on hard candies, which can cause teeth to break or chip. You should not chew on hard candies. But sucking on hard candies exposes your teeth to sugar for a longer time, increasing the chance of cavities to form.
Watch out for starchy foods
Starchy foods like chips and cakes can get trapped in your teeth. Be sure to brush and floss every day to remove all the food particles that can lead to plaque build-up and cavities.
You can still have fun
So, what can you eat? Lots of stuff! Make lean protein choices such as lean beef, skinless poultry and fish. Vary your diet. Eat whole grains and choose low-fat or fat-free dairy foods. The holidays are a great time of year to start thinking about healthier habits. If you do snack, make it a nutritious choice—such as cheese, yogurt, fruits, and vegetables—for your overall health and the health of your teeth. But if you do have those sugary, sticky treats, brush and floss as soon as you can afterwards.