The holiday season is here, and we all know how tempting it is to be surrounded by tasty treats at every turn. There are so many delicious sweets to enjoy during the holiday season — from candy canes to cookies and eggnog. Unfortunately, many of your holiday favorites present a real risk to your teeth, and, when eaten in excess, can quickly lead to cavities in the new year.

This holiday season, take steps to keep your family’s teeth healthy by limiting the foods that can damage them, and substituting with healthier options.

Here’s a look at some holiday snacks that can increase your risk for decay.

Protect Your Teeth, Avoid These Holiday Treats

The following list of holiday treats all have at least one main ingredient in common: sugar.  Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar and produce acid, which erodes enamel and increases your risk of cavities. To keep tooth decay at bay this season, try to avoid these sugary foods and beverages as much as possible.

  • Holiday cookies: Baked goods, such as cookies, are everywhere during the holiday season. In addition to being sugary, cookies contain starches that get trapped in your teeth and feed the bacteria in your mouth.  
  • Festive drinks: Holiday beverages such as eggnog, apple cider and hot chocolate are full of sugar that damage the teeth. Try to stick to one small serving of your favorite drink and wash away the sugary residue afterward with a glass of water.
  • Sticky foods: Caramels, gum drops and even dried fruits may taste delicious, but these sticky candies can wreak havoc on your teeth by coating enamel with sugar and sticking to the crevices of teeth.  If possible, avoid these chewy candies and opt for chocolates that melt in the mouth instead.
  • Candy canes: Candy canes contain a lot of sugar and take a long time to eat, which makes it easier for bacteria to gather in your mouth and attack your teeth. The same goes for other hard candies.

Holiday Tips for Healthy Teeth

Fortunately, there are ways to enjoy even the most harmful holiday treats while minimizing the risks to your oral health.

  • Avoid snacking: When you do indulge your holiday sweet tooth, it’s best to enjoy treats as part of a meal, rather than snacking on sweets throughout the day.
  • Drink plenty of water: Drink water throughout the day during the holidays to help wash harmful bacteria away from the teeth.
  • Brush your teeth: Be diligent with your oral hygiene during the holiday season. Wait at least 30 minutes after consuming sugary or acidic treats before brushing to prevent eroding enamel.

Schedule Your Next Visit for 2024

At McLean DDS, our patients’ oral health is our top priority. To help you maintain a healthy mouth, it is important that we see you for regular checkups. As 2023 comes to an end, don’t forget to schedule your first dental cleaning and exam for the new year. These exams allow you and your family to stay proactive and ahead of problems before they become more significant, costly issues. 

To schedule your next appointment, call (703) 734-2750 or request an appointment online today.

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