It’s the holiday season and that means lots of meals, parties and celebrations filled with tempting food choices that may damage or stain teeth. We’ve got a nice list of some mouth healthy holiday snack tips to avoid an unnecessary trip to the dentist and to keep your teeth shining bright!
Most people worry about watching their diet during the holidays to avoid weight gain. And with dishes and treats made from grandma’s good old fashioned recipes, the struggle is real, but keep in mind that too much of a good thing can also be harmful to your teeth.
Forage For Fruit
It can be hard to spot among the decorated confections, but someone almost always brings a fruit platter and why not let it be you? Opting for natural sugars is always a healthier choice than refined sugars and many fruits have specific oral health benefits. We’re talking raw, unsweetened fruit here (sorry, not the pies) but you have our permission to tell Great Aunt Jane you have been advised by your dentist to pass on her fruitcake!
The Nice List
- Apples are fibrous and are often called nature’s toothbrush because they help clean your teeth until you can brush and floss.
- Bananas are a source of oxalic acids, which can help plug up the dentinal tubules where pain and sensitivity starts.
- Cranberries have recently been discovered to contain properties that prevent cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to teeth.
- Oranges are an excellent source of Vitamin C, which not only boosts your immune system, but is also essential for strong teeth and gums.
- Pears are also fibrous and will stimulate saliva production to have a strong neutralizing effect on the acid that can strip away the enamel on your teeth.
- Pineapple contains Vitamin C and Bromelain, which promote healthy gums and plaque-free teeth.
- Strawberries have malic acid, a tooth-whitening agent! Rinse or brush after eating, as strawberries do contain sugar.
Park Yourself Near The Cheese & Veggie Platter
It’s easy at a party to get lost in conversation and lose track of how much we munch. You’ll be more conscious of intake if you have to seek out the foods high in carbohydrates or starches like chips, crackers, pasta and breads that react to the bacteria in your mouth the same way sugar does. Instead place yourself near healthier options then pile your plate with raw veggies, indulge in some dip and say cheese with a big healthy smile! Dairy has calcium, proteins and phosphates that protect and re-mineralize tooth enamel.
Skip The Gumdrops
Candy seems to be everywhere around the holidays! Make a deal with yourself that if you must indulge, you’ll save those indulgences for sweets that clear from your mouth quickly. Things like candy canes, caramel, gumdrops, peanut brittle, and lollipops or hard candies can not only trigger a dental emergency, but they also tend to have staying power.
Bring along some cacao nibs or look for dark chocolate with less than 6-8 grams of sugar – while the American Dental Association (ADA) has not taken an official position, some studies have shown they have compounds that actually help prevent cavities. We agree with the logic that when it comes to sweets, chocolate is probably your best bet because it washes off your teeth more easily. (You’re welcome!)
We’re talking about almonds, cashews, and walnuts as they’re rich in fiber and folic acid as well as other vitamins that benefit your overall health. Just remember – your teeth are not tools. That’s what the guy on the right was invented for!
It goes without saying, but with safety in mind we’ll say it anyway – partake in alcohol consumption in moderation and only with a designated driver. If you do imbibe, avoid citrusy/acidic drinks and opt for clear beverages, such as white wine that will not stain your teeth.
The Holiday Grind
The holidays can be especially stressful for some, which can lead to bruxism, excessive teeth grinding or jaw clenching, a fairly common condition that can lead to dental damage, facial pain and disturbed sleep. Ask us how a mouth guard might help you during this time to manage these behaviors.
For more healthy holiday recipe ideas that are almost too cute to eat, visit the American Dental Association’s Mouth Healthy website.
Most importantly, keep these tips in mind for your better health, but do enjoy some of the lavishness and finer treats of the season!