With all of the holiday parties and family gatherings this time of year brings, your dentist in Burlingame-Portland understands just how difficult saying no to all those tasty treats can be. While it can certainly be difficult to just limit yourself to one or two of the treats that pop up in the office break room or that you receive as a Secret Santa gift, there are a few steps you can take to help protect your oral health from the sugar rush that comes along with the holidays.
So that you can enjoy a few holiday treats while still smiling brightly in the New Year, here are a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to holiday snacking:
- Don’t snack throughout the day. Constantly munching on sweet treats provides plaque – a sticky biofilm that grows on the surface of tooth enamel – with an endless supply of fuel needed to produce harmful substances that contribute to the development of tooth decay. Taking a break from snacking will allow saliva – the body’s natural defense against plaque – to neutralize the substances produced plaque and help protect your tooth enamel.
- Choose your treats carefully. Try to avoid eating sticky treats (taffy), hard treats (peanut brittle), or chewy treats (caramel). These types of candies can break your teeth, pull out fillings and/or interfere with crowns.
- Stick with softer treats. Candies that melt in your mouth, such as peanut butter cups, chocolates filled with fruits, and Hersey kisses, pose a less of a threat to your oral health when compared to harder, stickier varieties. Regardless of the type of treats you choose, make sure you brush and floss after eating to help remove any excess sugar that lingers in the mouth.
- Sip from a straw. If you can, sip your egg nog, spiced wine and other sweet treats through a straw. Sipping through a straw helps minimize the amount of sugary liquid that comes into direct contact with your teeth.
- Don’t chew on ice. As sweet holiday cocktail may encourage you to savor the flavor by chewing on the ice that remains in your glass. However, chewing on ice can increase your risk of chipping, cracking or breaking your teeth.
- Don’t rush to brush. While it’s important to maintain your oral hygiene when eating excess amounts of sugar, it’s not always a good idea to brush immediately after finishing some types of treats. Certain types of beverages (spiced wine) and foods (fruits) that have a high acid content can weaken your tooth enamel. Immediately brushing after consuming these items can cause damage to your weakened tooth enamel. It’s better to wait a little while and rinse with water than risk damaging your teeth by immediately brushing.
- Chew sugar-free gum. Chewing sugar-free gum after meals and eating treats can actually help preserve your oral health. Chewing gum helps to increase saliva flow in your mouth. As we mentioned before, saliva acts as the body’s natural defense against harmful substances that contributes to tooth decay. By chewing gum, you can flush harmful substances from your mouth before any damage can occur.
By practicing these helpful tips, and scheduling regular appointments with your dentist in Burlingame-Portland, you can enjoy a healthy, great looking smile all throughout 2017.