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Smiles For Life

Holiday Sweets and Your Teeth

By Dr. Dan Whiting on December 11, 2017

Young people with healthy, beautiful smilesThe holidays are all about spending time with loved ones, often over good food and lots of sweets. While indulging your sweet tooth may be good for the soul, it's not good for your teeth. Holiday sweets can cause damage to the teeth and gums if extra precautions aren't taken to protect oral health.

At Smiles for Life Dental Care, our dentists offer advanced periodontal care to address oral health issues, such as gum disease, so patients can enjoy beautiful, healthy smiles during the holidays and throughout the year.

Learn some ways to protect your smile this holiday season as we take a closer look at holiday sweets and your teeth in this overview from Harrisonburg, VA dentists Joe McIntyre, Dan Whiting, and Kelsey Rockey.

How Do Sweets Cause Cavities?

Sugary foods and drinks increase the risk of tooth decay. To understand how this happens, we must take a look at the bacteria that are naturally found in the mouth.

These bacteria feed on sugars from the foods and drinks we eat. As the bacteria digest the sugars, they secrete acid. When these acids are left on the teeth, they can erode the tooth enamel, increasing the risk of cavities.

Eating sweets frequently throughout the holidays can cause bacteria to produce more acids, greatly increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Protecting Your Teeth from the Damage of Holiday Sweets

Cavities aren't the only problem too much sugary foods can cause. Sugary foods can also increase the risk of gum disease and tooth loss, but holiday sweets don't have to damage your smile.

Follow these tips to keep your smile dazzling throughout the holiday season and beyond.

  • Limit sweets: Avoid snacking on sweets throughout the day. Instead, limit the amount of sugary foods and drinks you eat to once or twice a day.
  • Avoid sweets that stick to the teeth: Sweets that stick to the teeth or take a long time to eat, like caramels and hard candies, allow sugars to stay in contact with the teeth for an extended amount of time. Avoiding these types of sweets in exchange for candies that dissolve quickly, like dark chocolate, can reduce the risk of tooth decay.
  • Brush after indulging: It's almost impossible to go through the holidays without indulging on sweets here and there. Brushing after eating sugary foods and drinks is a good way to protect the teeth during the holiday season and throughout the year.
  • Brush and floss daily: In addition to brushing after eating sweets, it's important to stay diligent with your normal daily hygiene routine. This includes brushing for a full two minutes in the morning and at night, as well as thoroughly flossing at least once a day. 
  • Rinse with water when you can't brush: If you're not able to brush your teeth after eating sugary foods, rinsing with water can help wash away food remnants and bacteria from the teeth.
  • See your dentist for regular exams and cleanings: Scheduling regular exams and cleanings can keep your smile healthy during the holidays and any time of year.
  • Seek gum care: Our dentists offer advanced periodontal care to address oral health issues, such as gum disease, so patients can enjoy beautiful, healthy smiles during the holidays and throughout the year

Schedule a Consultation

For more tips on protecting your teeth from holiday sweets, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with one of our dentists today.

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