Do You Know Which Tooth-Friendly Holiday Treats To Enjoy (and Which To Avoid)?

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Celebrating the holidays often means cherishing our favorite annual traditions. While gathering with loved ones and exchanging memories and gifts, it’s vital to safeguard your dental health, especially if you or your child is undergoing orthodontic treatment.

When wearing braces, certain foods and treats must be avoided to prevent damage to the braces. Even with clear aligners, which are removed before eating, maintaining strong, healthy teeth is crucial. This involves steering clear of harmful foods and beverages that can harm your teeth during your orthodontic journey.

How Sugar Affects Teeth

After indulging in sugary delights, you may notice a sticky film coating your teeth. This film, known as plaque, is an oral bacterial film. It’s essential to keep your teeth healthy and durable throughout your orthodontic treatment, whether with braces or clear aligners. The last thing you want is to contend with tooth decay instead of enjoying your newly straightened teeth.

Holiday Treats to Avoid

Being mindful of the foods you consume, particularly sugary and acidic treats, is crucial to protecting your smile. These treats should be enjoyed as occasional indulgences, not as daily snacks.

  • Sugary treats like candy canes, peppermints, and peppermint sticks are essentially large pieces of sugar that can crack a filling or a weak tooth. These sugary snacks also feed bacteria that produce acids, eroding your tooth enamel. Caramels, toffee, and nut brittle are similarly hazardous as they are sticky, hard, and chewy, risking dental fillings or tooth fractures
  • Traditional holiday goodies like gingerbread cookies, fudge brownies, or lemon bars, while soft, are packed with sugar that harms your teeth. Even seemingly “healthy” fruitcakes and favorite pies are laden with sugar that feeds harmful bacteria. Limit these treats whenever possible.

Indulging in eggnog or hot chocolate? These sugary drinks can increase the risk of tooth decay. Wine is acidic, soda is sugar-filled and acidic, and holiday punch is made from sugary fruits mixed with soda. Minimize your teeth’s exposure to these beverages and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and promote cavity-fighting saliva.

Safe Holiday Foods

  • Food rich in protein like turkey, ham, and salmon are excellent for your smile, providing phosphorus, potassium, and other essential nutrients that support healthy teeth and gums. Salmon, mackerel, and tuna, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, promote gum health.
  • Cheese aids in healthy saliva production supports tooth enamel, and is high in calcium while lowering acidity in the mouth. Enjoy varieties like brie, camembert, cheddar, and Monterey Jack, which are beneficial for dental health.
  • Vegetables are high in fiber, which helps protect against cavities thanks to their fibrous, tooth-scrubbing texture. They promote salivary production and strengthen tooth enamel. Serve colorful veggie platters with carrots, celery, radishes, root vegetables, and salads made from leafy greens like kale, spinach, chard, or collard greens.
  • If you wear aligners, you can safely enjoy seasonal nuts by removing the aligners to eat. If you wear braces, wait until after your orthodontic treatment to enjoy these treats and stick to soft foods in the meantime.
  • Delight in a vitamin-rich fruit platter with sliced apples, pears, grapes, and kiwis, which are non-sticky and beneficial for teeth and gums. Be sure to clean your braces thoroughly after eating.

Happy Holiday Smile

Enjoy yourself this holiday season and keep your smile safe while it gets straightened. Despite the busyness, remember to brush and floss daily as instructed. Soon, your orthodontic treatment will be complete, and you’ll be proud of the smile you’ve always dreamed of!