Now that the holidays are almost upon us, you’ll no doubt be tempted to indulge in traditional holiday treats. This means a sudden exposure to unhealthy snacks that could damage your teeth and send you to the dentist right after the holidays. We see this often and that’s why we thought we’d share the top 7 snacks that have ruined the holiday experience for our patients.
These hard, sugary confections can cause a lot of damage to the teeth as you risk cracking your teeth while the sugar in the jawbreakers can cause more plaque to stick to your teeth. When combined, cracking and plaque can lead to tooth decay. But if you or your children are gifted any jawbreakers, try to avoid cracking the candy with your teeth. Instead, suck on it and then thoroughly brush your tongue and teeth and rinse your mouth with mouthwash to prevent the sugar from settling on your teeth.
2. Caramel candies
Whether soft, hard or chewy, caramel candies stick to the teeth, stick between them and at times even dislodge any crowns, fillings and braces in your mouth. The candy and the sugar in it also tend to linger in your mouth even long after enjoying it, and sometimes it can take several brushings to completely get rid of them. When the sugar lingers in your mouth, it can cause tooth decay. If you do eat any caramel candies during the holidays, do your best to brush your teeth properly afterwards.
3. Hard nuts
We all love nuts, and we like to serve them as snacks or in fruit and nut cakes and other holiday recipes. However, hard nuts like almonds can potentially chip, crack and fracture your teeth regardless of your age. Plus, the older you are, the higher the risk since your teeth might be more fragile. So, be careful to chew very carefully or to buy nuts that’s already been cut or shaved into smaller or thinner pieces. This way, you won’t be exerting a lot of pressure when chewing. If you want to eat nuts for nutritional purpose, you can also try almond pastes and almond butters.
4. Sugary food
Chocolates, ice cream, dried fruits and cake are just some of the delicious sugary snacks and desserts that we like to serve during the holidays. Just like all things, in moderation they can be fine. However, considering the many gatherings you may be attending this holiday season, we recommend that you either limit the amount of sweet snacks you have at each of the gatherings or you go for the ones with a lower sugar content. The fewer sweets you consume, the lower the risk of developing cavities in your teeth.
5. Starchy foods
Starchy foods, such as bread, chips and pasta, can easily get stuck between your teeth and cause as much tooth decay as sugary snacks. That’s because the starch in the food breaks down into sugars that interact with bacteria to attack the tooth enamel in the same way sugar would when it lingers in the mouth. Instead of starchy foods this holiday, choose sugar-free or low-sugar dairy products and some fibre-rich fruits and vegetables.
5. Hard granola bars and other chewy bars
Although considered a healthy snack, some granola bars contain a lot of sugar and hard nuts and chewy caramel that can easily crack your teeth or get stuck in them. The caramel can also block saliva from protecting your teeth from plaque while the hard nuts or hard caramel can chip or crack your teeth. If you notice any chipping or cracking in your teeth, please see your dentist before any further damage occurs.
6. Hot food and beverages
Whether it’s a hot piece of roast turkey or a sip of hot tea, sometimes the extreme change in temperature can cause your teeth to expand and contract. If this happens a lot, eventually microscopic cracks develop, and you start to feel sharp pains in the nerves beneath the tooth enamel. This can also happen with cold food such as ice cream and milkshake.
Do keep in mind that tooth sensitivity is usually a sign of a problem deep down in your gumline. It’s also treatable. To get to the root of the problem (no pun intended), your dentist can check whether you need a filling, a crown, a root canal or just a simple product that can protect those weak spots in your teeth and ease your discomfort.
7. Sugary drinks
Just like with sugary food, sugary drinks (especially sugar-sweetened beverages) contain high levels of sugar and acid that can significantly speed up tooth erosion and lead to cavities. They include fruit juices, flavoured milk, soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, and some cordials. The ADA recommends drinking safer drinks, such as water, milk and unsweetened tea. But if you do drink soft drinks, do so in moderation and drink quickly with a straw. Drinking quickly and using straws help to minimise exposure to the sugar and acid.
Our articles are not intended to be a substitute for professional dental advice, diagnosis or treatment with your dentist, dental hygienist or other medical professional. We recommend to always contact our professional team if you or the person you care for has any concerns about their oral health.