The old adage “too much of a good thing” is never truer than during the holiday season. There tends to be an overabundance of everything – especially sweet treats. While it’s impractical to suggest complete avoidance of holiday goodies, Delta Dental of Idaho encourages moderation to make sure you receive the gift of great oral health!
Here are 5 common treats to limit during the holidays:
1. Candy Canes: The problem with candy canes is the prolonged amount of time that they linger as you slowly dissolve them in your mouth. Not to mention, the temptation to chomp them, which can lead to cracks or chips in your teeth. Consume them quickly and carefully to limit their negative oral health impact.
2. Christmas Cookies: It’s tempting to overindulge when there’s an abundance of baked goods – like Christmas cookies – laying around. But cookies are laden with sugar and can do significant damage to your pearly whites. Of course, we know suggesting skipping cookies entirely is impractical. Just enjoy them in moderation. It will even help by rinsing your mouth with water after eating to wash away the cookie particles still in your mouth and on your teeth.
3. Holiday Drinks (such as eggnog, apple cider and hot chocolate): Festive beverages offer more than warm, holiday cheer – eggnog boasts over 20 grams of sugar per cup, while hot cider can pack over 50 grams of sugar, and that’s before the whipped cream. Stick to one small serving of your favorite drink and wash away some of the sticky sugar residue after with a glass of water.
4. Caramels: Chewy, sticky treats such as grandma’s famous homemade caramels are particularly damaging because they are not only high in sugar, but they spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth and are more difficult for saliva to break down. The same rule applies to all those sparkly gumdrops on your gingerbread house.
5. Fruitcake: Even though it’s the butt of many holiday jokes, some people actually eat the fruitcake that gets passed around at the holidays. Oral health reasons to avoid it include the sugary cake base and the chewy, candied fruit that studs it throughout.
Cookies, candy and sweet holiday beverages all have at least one main ingredient in common: sugar, whose negative effect on teeth has been well-documented. Why is sugar so bad for your teeth? It mixes with bacteria in the sticky plaque that constantly forms on teeth to produce acid that attacks tooth enamel. The stickiness of that plaque keeps those harmful acids against the teeth, which contributes to tooth decay.
When you do indulge your holiday sweet tooth, it’s best to enjoy goodies as part of, or immediately following, a meal, rather than snacking on treats throughout the day. Another good tip to is to stick to one small serving of your favorite drink or snack and to follow up by swishing around some water, chew sugar-free gum, or brush soon after finishing to wash away some of the sticky sugar residue.
For more on maintaining your oral health, check out:
*Updated November 2020