The holiday season is here. For many people, this means indulging in more treats, sweets, and foods that aren’t quite healthy for their bodies or mouths. Don’t let the holidays get the best of your oral health! Check out our tips to keep your mouth healthy during the holidays.
How the holidays can impact oral health
Holiday foods are delicious, but unfortunately, many have a staggering amount of sugar. Treats like cookies, brownies, candy, and alcohol all tend to make their way into the festivities, but they won’t benefit your oral health.
Did you know the average American adult consumes 22 teaspoons of “added” sugar per day? This far exceeds the guideline of 6 teaspoons for women per day and 9 teaspoons for men per day. Consuming this much more sugar is not good for your oral health, but the temptations are everywhere during the holidays.
Whether you are stress eating, eating for joy, or enjoying the snacks because they’re seasonal, it’s essential to be aware of what you are consuming. We tend to draw a connection between sugar and obesity, which is a problem, but what sugars do to your oral health is overlooked.
How to keep your mouth healthy during the holidays
Keeping your mouth healthy during the holidays may feel impossible with all the goodies. Here are some foods to avoid while indulging.
- Sour candy: These chewy and sticky candies contain lots of sugar and acids that are unhealthy for your teeth and can contribute to tooth decay and cavities.
- Bread: You might not think of bread as a culprit, but it can contribute to cavities. When bread becomes a gummy substance in your mouth, it sticks to the crevices between teeth and can lead to cavities.
- Alcohol: Most people know alcohol is unhealthy, but the amount of sugar in most alcoholic beverages is shocking. Alcohol is also a diuretic and causes dehydration, leading to tooth decay and tooth staining. The high sugar content and the dehydration aspects of alcohol make it a double negative.
- Carbonated Drinks: Soda or diet soda enable plaque to build up and destroy your enamel.
- Ice: Chewing on ice can damage your oral health and cause dental emergencies. You can still use ice to chill a beverage, but avoid the urge to chew on it.
- Citrus: Oranges and lemons contain Vitamin C, but they are not beneficial to the enamel. If you eat citrus fruits, indulge in moderation and swish your mouth with water afterward.
- Potato chips: Avoid consuming chips in excess due to the amount of starch. Having a few chips is okay, but when you eat chips in bulk, the starch accumulation can stick to your teeth and cause plaque buildup.
- Dried fruits: These might sound like a healthy snack, but that is not the case for your mouth. Dried fruits stick to your teeth, so remember to drink water, followed by brushing and flossing after you eat.
Although avoiding all these foods and drinks might be difficult, following these oral health tips during the holidays might save you time and money at the dentist in the future.
Healthy alternatives to holiday treats
Holiday treats don’t need to be full of sugar and fat. Here are some healthy alternatives for this holiday season:
- Egg snowmen: Made with eggs, carrots, and peppercorns. This treat is fun to make and full of healthy vitamins.
- Spinach artichoke frittata trees: These tasty snacks are packed with vitamins and minerals (remember to floss after eating).
- Black olive penguins: These cream cheese-filled black olive penguins are fast and fun to make and will draw some attention during your holiday festivities.
- Cheesy reindeer: Made with your choice of cheese, pretzels, olives, and red pepper. This recipe looks great visually, and your mouth will appreciate it too.
- Pita tree appetizers: These delicious pita trees are filled with healthy ingredients and look incredible when served.
- Grinch poppers: Not your traditional poppers. These tasty grinch poppers contain fruit and cheese instead of other sugary sweets.
Oral health care routine during the holidays
Choosing healthier food isn’t the only method for keeping your mouth healthy during the holidays. It’ also important to make sure your oral health care routine remains consistent.
Dental visits during the holidays
It’s important to follow brushing and flossing routines, but there is only so much you can do for your teeth at home. Visiting the dentist every six months (twice a year) is crucial.
These dental visits help clean plaque off your teeth and gums, as well as clean areas in your mouth that your toothbrush doesn’t reach. Not only does your dentist clean your teeth, but they also scan for signs of oral cancer and other dental diseases. When you skip routine dental visits the oral health problems can stack up without your knowledge, so schedule an appointment today.
The holiday season brings treats you might want to limit, but with some planning and preparation, you can find healthy substitutes. Follow the tips above to ensure you maintain a healthy mouth.
Check out this blog for more healthy holiday alternatives: