The holidays are upon us—and in this season of abundance — a deluge of tempting sweets and treats. Cookies, cakes, and candies are everywhere: at home, at work, at school. Moderation is the key. Read on for some mouth-healthy strategies that won’t leave you feeling like a Grinch with tooth decay and other damage to your teeth.
Candy is especially harmful to teeth because bacteria in the mouth burn the sugar, and create acid as a byproduct. The acid then dissolves tooth enamel, which is what causes cavities.
Chew candies, including gummy candies, caramel, and taffy, are among the worst offenders because they linger and stick around in your mouth. This extended exposure gives them extra time to cause tooth decay. Plus, some are sticky and strong enough to pull out fillings, bridges, or expensive dental appliances like orthodontics braces.
Other Candies to Avoid
Popular sour, chewy candies pack a double whammy when it comes to tooth decay. These treats contain both sugar and acid. Limit how many sour candies and lemony sweets you or your child enjoys in order to prevent long-term damage.
Hard candies — like candy canes — are especially harmful. Because they’re enjoyed slowly, these candies linger longer, making it difficult for your saliva to do its job.
Best Candies — Good News for Chocolate Lovers
Chocolate tops the list of best bets when it comes to oral hygiene because it dissipates fairly quickly with saliva. And since chocolate doesn’t linger on the teeth for very long, it doesn’t pose as much of a risk for tooth decay as other holiday candy options. Even so, it’s best to only indulge your “sugar crush” in moderation.
Other Good Candy Choices include sugarless gum and sugarless candies, such as candies with Stevia or sugarless candies for diabetics.
Candy bars, cakes, or cookies with nuts are some of the best holiday treats for your teeth. Not only do nuts provide protein, they also break up some of the biofilm on the teeth.
Not the Fruitcake Again! Along with that dreaded confection your Aunt Ruth sends each year, it’s best to avoid dried fruits like apricots and cranberries. These, like their candy counterparts, tend to stick to the teeth longer. If you must indulge, take extra care to brush and rinse thoroughly.
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry And Smart
- Hold the eggnog! Too much alcohol can dry out your mouth. Imbibe moderately and don’t forget a water chaser.
- Eat sweets with meals or shortly after mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals. This helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and rinse away food particles.
- Brushing and Flossing immediately after eating sweets will limit the amount of time sugar remains on your teeth.