One reason we look forward to the Christmas season is the food. This is the time of year our favorite coffee shops roll out the gingerbread-flavored lattes and the pumpkin bread, we’re guaranteed at least one huge turkey dinner this month, and there’s probably enough candy in the house to distribute to a hundred neighborhoods next Halloween. One can easily gain weight in this time, and that’s an obvious concern, but we probably don’t think much about our teeth and the probability that we’re putting them at risk.
Think about it: if we eat more sweets in a short period of time, we’re eating more sugar. We eat more sugar, we increase the risk of damage to tooth enamel. If we don’t compensate for the spike in sweets consumed over Christmas by brushing and flossing better, we could encounter problems during our next dental visit. Nobody wants to start off the new year with a cavity or the prospect of drilling, so be careful when you eat and drink at holiday gatherings.
What can you do to help keep your teeth healthy and strong this season? It’s easy to say we’re going to do our best to lay off the chocolate, but the temptation is strong. You don’t necessarily have to deprive yourself of the foods you love, but moderation is key to good dental health.
One of the best things you can do to help your teeth is to stick with water. Yes, the holidays are full of coffees and cocoas and fizzy punches, but water is the best thing for you healthwise. Sodas and carbonated punches are not good for your enamel and should be avoided or severely limited any time of year. Cocoa is nice for an occasional treat, but it is caloric (depending on how it’s made) and the sugar presents a problem. If you’re a coffee drinker, you know to be extra vigilant when brushing. Brush after every meal if you can.
Whenever possible, balance your holiday food with veggies and teeth-friendly foods like cheese, limiting the Christmas candy. If you’re baking this year, look into alternative ingredients that not only lower the fat content of your sweets, but also the sugar content. If it’s possible, cut down on sugar ingredients in your recipes – you may need to play around to improve taste, but if it keeps you healthy it’s worth the trouble.
Enjoy your holidays and don’t feel bad about indulging this year. Just be mindful of what you enjoy.
Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Virginia Beach dentists and Virginia Beach dental offices.