Most people will agree that the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year! They are also one of the most indulgent times of the year. The holidays get a bad reputation for how indulging might affect your waistline, but few are aware of how quickly decadent foods and drinks might affect their mouth’s health or appearance.

All of the delicious meals, treats and drinks at each celebration are certainly meant to be enjoyed. However, a little up-front knowledge about keeping your mouth healthy during this time could save you from a toothache or yellowing smile!

Give These Treats the Side-Eye

Some menu items taste nice, but are actually quite naughty – especially if you currently wear braces or a retainer. We’re not saying you have to avoid these items, but maybe think twice about them. See if there are other tasty choices you might be able to swap them for instead!

  • Candy canes – particularly tough on your teeth and dental work.
  • Peppermint bark and crunchy cookies – if your teeth are sensitive or fragile, consider dipping these in milk to soften before eating.
  • Caramel, taffy, peanut brittle, and pecan pie – if a treat is sticky, the harder it will be on your teeth and dental work! These treats will cling to your teeth and can be difficult to brush off later.
  • Popcorn – those kernels can be tough on anyone’s teeth! Make sure to not accidentally grab any un-popped pieces. Keep floss handy in case any slivers get caught in your teeth.
  • Holiday drinks like cider, hot chocolate, and eggnog are loaded with sugar that will coat your mouth and teeth.
  • Wine – wine is known to be highly acidic! Both red and white varieties are capable of discoloring your teeth and eroding your enamel.

7 Ways to Stay on the Nice List

After reading the above advice, you might be wondering what can you eat and drink? Keep in mind the old tip that, if it’s good for your body, it’s good for your mouth too! There are usually other healthy options available at celebrations, and we’ll show you how those can help balance out the treats.

  1. Make adjustments the day of a party. Avoid that sugary coffee drink or breakfast item if you are going to an event later. This will help limit the time and amount of sugar present in your mouth all day!
  2. Timing matters – when enjoying sugary treats, it’s best to eat them in a short amount of time instead of over a longer period of time. This is because bacteria feeds on the sugar that is present in our mouths, and we want to limit the amount of time it has to grow.
  3. Balance is key. Trade off sugary, sticky, or acidic items with a healthy option. For example: after having a glass of wine, drink some water. Or after sneaking a cookie before dinner, have some salad with your meal. Interrupting your mouth’s sugar or acid intake with a healthy choice will help clear it out and reduce bacteria’s chance to grow.
  4. Eat a toothbrush – but not literally! Fruits and vegetables are excellent at cleaning our teeth when we chew them and their fibers mix with saliva. Consider munching on some apples, strawberries, carrots, or cauliflower in between other treats.
  5. Step away from the kitchen! Isn’t it true that everyone always seems to congregate in the kitchen? Remaining in there increases the chance that you will mindlessly grab another cookie or refill your glass more frequently. Move your conversation to another space and your mouth will thank you.
  6. Don’t forget to brush and floss after a night of indulgence. It’s understandable that after a fun, late night all you want to do is go to bed. However, if nothing else, brush and floss your teeth before letting your head hit the pillow! Otherwise, bacteria will have all night to feed on the sugar in your mouth and erode your tooth enamel.
  7. Nothing gets your teeth clean like a dental visit! Plan your next visit to the dentist around the holidays. It would be perfect timing to catch any potential cavities or other issues.

We want you to enjoy the holidays – we plan to enjoy them too! All of those parties and get-togethers make for some amazing memories. Keeping this information in mind will help you stay on track with your oral health. No one enjoys cavities or toothaches, and the holidays would be a terrible time to experience oral discomfort. Consider these tips your mouth’s holiday survival guide!