During the holiday season, it is easy to get wrapped up in the festivities and indulgences that come with it. But the consequences of some of these sugary treats can be more serious than just a cavity. Eating too many sweets, particularly ones with high sugar, can damage your teeth and lead to other oral health issues. Therefore, knowing which holiday treats can be the most damaging to your teeth is important, so you can take measures to reduce their risks. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the holiday treats that could lead to tooth damage and how you can limit their effects. Not only can eating the right foods better your smile, but also your overall oral health. So, it’s important to know which foods to watch out for and how to incorporate healthier alternatives into your diet.
How sugar affects your teeth?
Have you ever noticed that your mouth feels sticky or filmy when you eat too much sugar? It’s a plaque. When bacteria accumulate on your teeth, plaque is created. Saliva normally removes plaque, but if there is too much sugar in the environment, there may be more plaque than your saliva can handle. Plaque bacteria consume sugar, converting it into acids as a food source. As the acids erode tooth enamel, germs can cause infections and cavities in the crevices of the teeth.
Therefore, while sugar alone doesn’t cause tooth decay, consuming too much of it might lead to an unhealthy oral environment because:
- Bacteria can flourish in the mouth thanks to sugar.
- Bacteria produce acid as they consume sugar, harming tooth enamel.
- Sugar dehydrates you, reducing the saliva you produce, which is your body’s first line of defence against bacteria and acid.
Holiday foods that are bad for your teeth
To safeguard your teeth this Christmas season, you must avoid more than just sugar. Sugar and acid together, or some other element, can enhance the effects of sugar or otherwise damage the enamel of your teeth. In light of this, we’ve listed the six-holiday foods most likely to damage your teeth.
- Peppermint sticks – Candy canes, peppermints, and peppermint sticks are common Christmas symbols specifically made to rot your teeth. They are only sugar (with just a little peppermint oil). And not just regular sugar, but crystalline sugar that melts slowly. Biting into one could cause a filling or weak tooth to crack, but leisurely sucking one fills your mouth with bacteria that love sugar and can cause tooth rot. We singled out peppermints because they are so popular from Thanksgiving to the New Year, but all hard candies are at the top of the list of things not to consume during the holidays.
- Brittle and toffee – Delectable and destructive combo because they are both hard, chewy, and perfectly suited to get lodged in your teeth. You risk shattering a tooth or displacing a filling when you bite into these dense candies, especially if they contain nuts. The toffee then becomes stuck between teeth or in dental crevices, which it always does, creating the ideal environment for bacteria to thrive while surrounded by their favourite food, sugar.
- Candy corn – Like toffee, caramel corn is the worst holiday food because of its hardness and sugar content. But popcorn also has a peculiar ability to become trapped in between teeth. When was the last time you ate a popcorn bowl without brushing your teeth afterwards? Adding caramel increases the likelihood that popcorn will become stuck, coating your teeth and gums in sugar as it stays in contact with them.
- Glazed nuts – Although buying nuts from the supermarket rarely results in a fractured tooth, many like shelling and baking their nuts over the holidays. For those with delicate teeth, a stray shell or an underrated nut can be dangerous. When it comes to sugar levels, candied nuts are only marginally better than hard candies, albeit thankfully, they don’t stick around in your mouth as long.
- Sweet hot drinks – If drinking anything hard is risky, you might assume drinking liquid would be better for your teeth. Unfortunately, sipping a hot chocolate or cider exposes your entire mouth to bacteria since liquids can reach every minuscule surface in your mouth, including the spaces between your teeth, the grooves in your teeth, and the area all around each tooth. The heat from hot drinks can also weaken tooth enamel or result in tiny fissures that let stains and decay into your mouth.
- Wines – Red and white wines both contain high levels of acid, which contributes to dental enamel erosion. Additionally, drinking wine causes you to get dehydrated, which affects your salivary flow over time and weakens your body’s defences against acid. Additionally, red wine’s tannins have a history of discolouring teeth.
What would a seasonal gathering be without the food and drinks we eagerly anticipate each year? The holidays are meant to be enjoyed with family and friends. Just be selective and consume in moderation. Make sure you’re not continuously exposing your mouth to meals that raise acidity and give germs a warm place to live. To know more about how to care for your oral health, visit your Edmonton dentist at Smile Zone Dental. Call us at 780-989-5733 to book an appointment.