When you’re thinking about foods to avoid during the holidays, you’re likely focusing on calories — and neglecting to think about your teeth. But many holiday foods are absolute nightmares for your pearly whites and if you’re not careful, you could leave the season with stained teeth and unnecessary cavities.
Here are 6 holiday foods and drinks to avoid or enjoy in moderation, plus 4 healthier options that your mouth will thank you for.
6 Foods to Avoid This Holiday Season
Alcohol dries out your teeth, leaving them more susceptible to decay. Increasing your water intake can help you compensate for this dryness.
Drinks that can be especially bad? Sugary cocktails – they dry out your mouth and then bathe it in sugar.
If you’re drinking red wine this holiday season, avoid stained teeth by staying hydrated and eating as you drink, which will stimulate saliva production and help prevent stains from building up. Red wine is high in tannins, which stain teeth. Another tip? Avoid starting with white wine. Its lower acidity is more harmful to your teeth, and will make them more vulnerable to stains when you start drinking red wine.
Better options: Ales and sparkling wines like champagne or cava may do less damage to your teeth with a pH of about 4, closer to the natural 7 your mouth sits at.
The combination of sugar and alcohol makes this especially threatening to your teeth. The bourbon dries out your mouth, leaving it extra susceptible to sugary attacks.
3. Chewy Candies
Dots and other chewy candies may look great on your gingerbread men, but they don’t look so great plastered on your teeth. Try to avoid candies that give you the feeling that something is “stuck” on or in between your teeth.
4. Citrus Fruits
Even though citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, their acidity can wear down your teeth’s enamel.
Looking for a healthy option? To find out how acidic your favorite fruit is, check out Colgate’s helpful list of fruits by acidity.
If you do choose a citrusy or other acidic beverage, try using a straw. This will streamline the beverage to the back of your mouth so it doesn’t bathe your teeth as much.
5. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit packs a high sugar punch. And they’re sticky, so they’re easy to get lodged between teeth, where they can speed cavity formation. Canned fruits are also usually high in sugar, so stay away from those if possible.
Fresh, non-citrus fruits are your best bet.
Nuts are healthy and low in sugar. However, they can wreak havoc on your teeth, and the really hard ones can cause fractures. Softer nuts like cashews and pistaccios are safer choices.
4 Foods to Smile About
Here are 4 foods your mouth will thank you for eating this holiday season.
1. Leafy Greens
Dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens have calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, and magnesium. These are all great for healthy teeth and gums.
2. Cheese, Milk, and Yogurt
Dairy is a delicious source of calcium. Enjoy to support strong bones and teeth.
3. Raw, Crunchy Vegetables
Raw vegetables like celery, carrots, and broccoli not only give you important vitamins and minerals, but they also help to remove plaque as you chew. And as an added bonus, they tend to be high in fiber, so you can’t go wrong!
4. Seeds and Nuts
Seeds and nuts help remove plaque. Plus, they can have additional benefits for you. Take sesame seeds, for example, which are high in calcium. Try sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds, or cashews. Nuts also provide calcium and phosphorous, two important nutrients for building teeth.
A Word of Caution about Abrasive Foods
You shouldn’t overuse abrasive foods or substances. If you overdo it, you could wear away your tooth enamel or even crack a tooth. The goal is not to wear down the surface of your tooth. You want only to loosen plaque buildup from the enamel of your teeth.
How Will You Take Care of Your Teeth This Holiday Season?
This holiday season, give yourself one more thing to celebrate: a healthy smile. The best strategy? Regular dental care. Schedule an appointment today and get the healthy, beautiful smile you deserve.