As the holiday season revs up, we know you want to indulge in your favorite treat, be it Aunt Mary’s pumpkin pie, or Uncle Irving’s special Irish coffee. So we thought you’d appreciate an easy guide to foods and beverages that can wreak havoc on the protective coating of your teeth that helps fight tooth decay, or which can otherwise send you to the dental chair in the middle of your holiday cheer. So here are our top 5 things to limit or avoid, no matter the season:
1. White Flour Crackers. We all love our crunchy-munchies, but the versions made from bleached white flour turn almost immediately into bacteria producing factories which can degrade tooth enamel. Choose whole-grain versions for better oral and overall health.
2. Popcorn. Take me out to the movies! We love a big bag of the hot stuff too, drizzled with butter we confess (organic of course!), but biting down on a popcorn kernel is one of the most common causes of broken teeth and fillings, and popcorn husks can get stuck between teeth, irritating gums. Trust us, these problems almost always happen on a weekend. So indulge, but carefully.
3. Alcoholic Beverages. We know it is the season, but alcohol dries out sensitive tissues in the mouth and reduces saliva production. This makes you more susceptible to tooth decay and bad breath. Be sure to drink lots of water if you must indulge!
4. Dried Fruit. Seems counterintuitive right? It’s fruit! But the sugars in dried fruits are concentrated and their texture makes them stick to teeth longer, allowing acid-producing bacteria more time to have a field day degrading your tooth enamel. Choose fresh fruit instead.
5. Sports Drinks. We’re all for replacing potassium and other minerals lost during physical activity, but most sports drinks are high in sugars and are very acidic. Again, the acidic environment created by these drinks is music to bacteria’s ears, so limit your intake, and when you do indulge, swish your mouth with water after drinking to give your tooth enamel a fighting chance. Instead, opt for coconut water, a natural and effective way to hydrate.
Bring on the pumpkin pie and remember to brush after meals, not right after, as that can hurt tooth enamel too (within about a half hour of eating is best.)