With Christmas celebrations already well underway, it’s time for all of us to eat, drink and be merry. It’s the time of year when reckless amounts of cake, sweets and other holiday goodies are consumed, and everyone feels very content about it. Except for dentists. Because we know that over the Christmas period we will see a lot of people with damaged teeth, toothache and other problems, and in January we will be filling an awful lot of cavities. And since very few people actually enjoy going to the dentist to have work done, we thought we would share with you some of the festive foods to avoid this year if you want to protect your teeth.
These iconic Christmas treats are often used as tree decorations, or given out as a festive treat to children, and even crushed up and baked into holiday foods. But just like other hard candies, they are notoriously bad for your teeth and mouth. Not only do they represent a huge injection of sugar (that’s basically all they’re made of), which sticks to the teeth and encourages decay, they are also a leading cause of chipped teeth from people biting down on them. They can also cause abscesses or ulcers, where people suck on the ends and make them sharp, and then cut the inside of their mouths with them. So while candy canes look great, be careful when you eat them, and always rinse your mouth with water afterwards (or better, brush your teeth).
Dried Fruits and Fruitcake
If you were looking for an excuse to avoid eating fruitcake this Christmas, here it is. While dried fruit might seem a better option for a snack than a cookie or cupcake, they can actually increase the risk of you getting a cavity. This ‘healthy’ alternative is actually packed with sugar, and the sticky nature means it’s harder to shift off your teeth afterwards, making them a breeding ground for bacteria. Fruitcake has a similar problem, but with an added risk. If you happen to have weak teeth, crowns or fillings, these super-sticky cakes could actually pull them apart, leading to some pretty intense pain, not to mention the perfect environment for bacteria to multiply and cause cavities.
Is there anything more Christmassy than a steaming mug of hot chocolate, topped with whipped cream and marshmallows? Mulled wine maybe, but generally hot chocolate sales soar at this time of year, with chains like Costa seeing a 200% increase in the number ordered compared to other times of year. But cocoa has an extraordinarily high sugar content, which can lead to tooth decay, and all that extra dairy can lead to bad breath – which isn’t great when you’re supposed to be hugging a lot of people!
This is a pretty new introduction to the UK, but it’s gaining popularity quickly. But for a dentist, Eggnog is one of the worst holiday drinks you can consume for 2 reasons. The first is the fact that it includes alcohol – usually bourbon or some other spirit, which can wreak havoc on your mouth. Alcohol can make the mouth very dry, which creates an environment primed for gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath. To add to that, Eggnog is mainly made of milk, cream and other dairy products. But dairy proteins are easily converted into odorous sulphur compounds by the bacteria that live in your mouth. In other words, Eggnog will give you some killer eggy breath!
Anything With Caramel Or Fudge
We know it’s an absolute festive staple, but that box of Quality Street could cause a lot more problems than you think. Caramel and fudge are particularly bad for your teeth, not only because they contain higher levels of sugar than other sweets, but because they are sticky, hard and gooey. This means that you’re a risk of pulling out fillings, crowns or even teeth as you try to prise your jaws apart. And the fact that you’re often picking it out of (or sucking it off) your teeth for hours after you ate it shows that the sugar content sticks to your teeth like glue, giving the bacteria in your mouth all of the food they need to multiply and cause cavities. So if you don’t want to kick off your 2019 having cavities filled, we’d advise avoiding too much caramel.
All that said, we know how much fun Christmas can be, and that for many it’s the one time of the year they indulge. So we’re not saying you should avoid eating or drinking these things completely. If you want to, have them! Just be sure to take care of your teeth if you do. That means drinking plenty of water to flush the bacteria off your teeth, and making sure you brush your teeth, floss and use mouthwash at least twice a day (no matter how much you don’t feel like it on Christmas Day! If you want to find out more about keeping your teeth healthy over Christmas, or to book your check-up, just get in touch with us today.