The holidays are a notoriously difficult time for teeth. Sometimes it seems like there’s an exciting new holiday treat around every corner: cookies at the office, caramel popcorn from the neighbors, peanut brittle from Grandma, or pies at home. While these treats are certainly yummy, they also send the bacteria in your mouth into a feeding frenzy. This can accelerate the development of tooth decay and cavities. So today, we want to talk about some alternative holiday treats that are better for your teeth and still satiating.
- Dark Chocolate
- Nut Mixes
If your sweet tooth just can’t be ignored (which makes most of us), reach for dark chocolate. In addition to being downright delicious, dark chocolate has less sugar than milk chocolate and white chocolate so it’s less likely to cause tooth decay.
Other Health Benefits
But did you know that dark chocolate actually has health benefits? Because it has a higher cocoa content (50-90% cocoa solids) compared to milk chocolate (10-50%), dark chocolate contains more beneficial cocoa flavanols. Flavanols are special compounds produced by plants. Amazingly, these phytonutrients work to protect your heart! They lower your blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels and reducing inflammation, thus improving blood flow. Moreover, they may help to improve your insulin sensitivity and blood sugar management.
A special nut mix is a great holiday snack that won’t wreak havoc on your oral health. Nuts are full of protein and calcium that strengthen teeth, as well as iron and magnesium, which are critical for healthy teeth and gums.
Who Shouldn’t Eat Nuts
However, our patients with braces should avoid eating harder nuts, like macadamia nuts, walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts, and they should use a water flosser after eating softer nuts to prevent the particles from lingering around their brackets. Additionally, we recommend that those who have recently had oral surgery to refrain from consuming nuts since the hardness may cause pain.
Nearly everyone loves cheese, and cheese platters are popular appetizers during the holidays. Fortunately, this tasty treat contains calcium and phosphate that will help fortify the enamel of your pearly whites. Even better, some studies show that consuming cheese can lower the pH in your mouth, which neutralizes acid and helps protect you from cavities.
Unhealthy Cheesy Foods
While cheeses like Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Brie, Camembert, Blue, Gorgonzola, and Roquefort can strengthen teeth, there are some cheesy foods that aren’t so good for teeth that we recommend limiting. These include American cheese, prepackaged cheese dips, cheese sprays, pizza, and nachos, which all have added sugar and a reduced cheese content.
Enjoy All Treats in Moderation
If you can’t resist the urge for a sweet holiday treat, we completely understand. It is fine to enjoy sweets in moderation, but there are steps you can take to mitigate the negative effect of sugar on your teeth. Drink plenty of water to wash away any leftover food particles and chew sugar-free gum for at least 20 minutes after eating. Also, don’t skimp on your oral care routine during the holidays. Brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes each time, and floss every day.
We Hope to Hear From You Soon!
To ask our team any other questions about caring for your teeth this holiday season or to schedule your next appointment, contact our office today.