The holidays are here and that means there are going to be treats everywhere between now and New Year’s Day. If you plan to indulge, you might want to choose treats that are good for your teeth, or at least not likely to cause a cracked tooth. While we love all of our patients here at See Me Smile Dental and Orthodontics, we know you do not want to come to the office in the middle of December!
We put this short guide together to help you know which holiday treats are the best and the worst for your teeth. If you have any questions, feel free to call our Santa Barbara office. Our staff will be happy to help you.
When it comes to holiday treats and your dental health, “best” is relative. Many of these are the least bad option without necessarily being good for your teeth. The holidays only come once a year, and if you indulge moderately and take care of your teeth afterward, you should be okay.
Nature makes some great treats all on her own. You can indulge in these to your heart’s content. Natural treats include fruits and vegetables such as apples, berries, carrots, and squash. They also include things such as cheese and olives.
Chocolate is not bad for you by itself, particularly if you stick to dark chocolate. Look for chocolates that do not have nuts or caramel, as these can damage your teeth. Plain chocolates in various flavors, fudge, divinity, custards, and puddings are all included in this category.
Most baked goods are on the “best” list if they do not contain nuts, crunchy bits, or sticky toffee and caramel. This means that the majority of pies, cakes, cookies, cheesecakes, and similar treats are all okay for you to eat in moderation. If you love apple pie, chocolate cake, or pumpkin cheesecake at this time of the year, you are in luck. Leave out the nuts and caramel and you can eat your Christmas cookies too.
Some treats are okay for you to have on occasion but be careful with them and brush your teeth well after you finish.
What falls into the category of liquid sugars? All of the sweet drinks you can find in abundance this time of year, from eggnog and hot chocolate to apple cider and Christmas punch. These are bad for your teeth because they apply sugar directly to your chewing surfaces, which can then be converted into acids by the bacteria that live in your mouth and lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
If you do not have traditional metal or porcelain ceramic braces, you can occasionally eat nuts and popcorn, and products containing them. Be cautious with these treats, however, because they are hard and crunchy, which can damage or even break your teeth.
Eat them carefully and try not to chew them on teeth that have had fillings or other restorative work. You do not want to spend your holidays with a toothache!
Some treats are so bad for your teeth that you should try not to eat them at all. They are so sticky, gooey, hard, and/or crunchy that they can damage your teeth. Here are the worst ones to avoid.
Have you seen those old-fashioned hard candies that come out in the fall? They can all crack your teeth if you are not careful. So can other hard candies such as ribbon candy and candy canes if you chew on them. Avoid these entirely or at least don’t chew them.
These treats are both hard and sticky, which is the worst possible combination for your teeth. That is what puts them at the bottom of the list. They can damage your teeth when you chew them and will stick to your chewing surfaces for hours.
The stickiness of these candies makes them stick to your teeth for hours after you eat them. They spend all that time breeding bacteria that damage your teeth. Some of these are so sticky that they are hard to remove even with careful brushing.
These super-hard nuts are a cracked tooth waiting to happen. Like brittle, they also tend to be sticky. Avoid them if you can do so.
If you are going to indulge, look for soft and/or creamy treats. These have the best texture for your dental health and are unlikely to cause immediate damage. Look out for sticky, crunchy, gooey, and especially hard treats. These latter are the ones that can crack or chip your teeth.
You should also brush and floss well after indulging in holiday treats. The longer you leave food particles, especially from sweets, on your teeth, the more time they have to be converted into acids that will eat away at your tooth enamel.
Most dental problems are not going to be an emergency issue. Call our Santa Barbara office and we will get you in to be seen as soon as we can. If you lose a tooth or experience a lot of swelling, intense pain, or bleeding, you need to be seen right away by an emergency dentist or your local emergency room. You can then follow up with your provider for further treatment.
See Me Smile Dental and Orthodontics is a full-service dental office that cares for patients throughout the Santa Barbara area. We offer general, restorative, orthodontic, and cosmetic dental services to both adults and children. We have flexible appointments to help fit your needs and offer affordable financing options so you can afford the dental care you need.
Make an appointment with See Me Smile Dental and Orthodontics by calling (805) 284-0826 today!
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