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Everyone looks forward to indulging during the holidays, but many of the traditional foods can be terrible for your teeth. While the occasional treat is certainly okay, especially during a rare and special holiday celebration, here are some tasty alternatives you might want to consider instead.
Caramel Corn & Candied Nuts
It is easy to snack on these tempting treats, but caramel corn and candied nuts are not only loaded with sugar but sticky and crunchy too. This is a bad combination. The hard and sticky pieces can get stuck between teeth, trapping sugar where it can cause decay.
Try Instead: A Cheese Plate
Meats and cheeses are actually good for your teeth. Cheese contains calcium which helps more than just bone health. Calcium plays a role in strengthening tooth enamel as well. The protein in dried meats is good for overall health, and the act of chewing them can stimulate saliva, which is beneficial as well.
Dried fruits may sound healthy, but they are sticky and tend to get stuck between teeth. That’s where the concentrated sugars can promote decay. And – surprise – many store-bought dried fruits are loaded with added sugar.
Try Instead: Fresh Fruit with Homemade Whipped Cream
While fresh fruits do contain natural sugars, they also contain far more water than dried versions, which is good for teeth. Apples and pears are already associated with the holidays and are great on their own. Pair fresh berries with whipped cream, and fruit becomes more indulgent. Make the whipped cream yourself so you can control the sugar content.
Pecan Pie & Fruitcake
Sticky and hard at the same time, these sugar-laden desserts are not the best choice. Hard bits can damage enamel and even crack teeth. And the longer sugar sticks around in your mouth, the more chance for bacteria to feed on it and cause decay. Similarly, avoid caramels, toffee, and brittle, as these treats all have the same sticky-sweet combo.
Try Instead: Soft Pies and Cakes
Softer desserts like apple pie, pumpkin pie, and cheesecake all contain tons of sugar, and as we know, that is not ideal. However, if you are going to indulge (and let’s face it, you probably are), choosing these types of desserts may be better than some we mentioned because they are not hard or sticky, and the sugar in them will be less likely to stick to teeth.
Candy Canes & Peppermints
Candy canes may be a tradition, but unfortunately, they are one of the worst offenders on this list. Their sugar content is through the roof. Even worse, they are both sticky and hard. Sugars can stick to your teeth and if you bite into them, the hardness of these treats means the potential to crack or chip your teeth.
Try Instead: Smooth Dark Chocolate or Peppermint Tea
Chocolate may have sugar, but it is smooth and melty, meaning it is a better choice than sticky, hard candies. The temperature of your mouth will melt chocolate quickly, and a sip of water or milk easily washes it away. Choose dark chocolate for healthy antioxidants. And if you miss the minty flavor of candy canes, try some peppermint tea to get your fix.
Eggnog is chock full of sugar, and the alcohol in spiked eggnog makes it even worse. Alcoholic drinks can contribute to dry mouth and tooth decay.
Try Instead: Milk or Flavored Seltzer
The milk half of the milk-and-cookie combo is actually beneficial. Milk contains calcium, which we mentioned is good for teeth. Another healthy option is seltzer water. Many festive flavors (think cranberry lime) are out there but check to label for sugar to be safe.
If you are going to have a cocktail, some choices are better than others. Look for clear liquor with sugar-free mixers. For a festive option, try vodka and club soda with rosemary and fresh cranberry garnish. Don’t be fooled by healthy-sounding tonic water and juice; both are laden with sugar.
Happy Holidays from Your Marrero Dentist
We hope you and your family enjoy the holiday season, even if that means a little indulgence. Just keep up your good oral health habits the rest of the time, and remember to schedule your regular dental appointments for the upcoming year!