Candy Canes, Cocoa, and Cavities: How to Keep Your Teeth Safe from Christmas Treats

Well, you could just not indulge yourself in them, but where’s the fun in that?  We want all of our readers to enjoy their Christmas festivities to the fullest!  That usually involves more sweets than you’d consume in an average week.  So how can you enjoy some Christmas treats without wrecking your teeth?

By following just a few simple rules, you can protect your teeth from the damage that occurs from a high sugar intake.  Here’s our recipe for a healthy holiday season.

  1. Just add water.water-2057924_640

The fastest and easiest way to reduce the damage from sugary treats is by swishing and drinking plain tap water afterward.  Prosper’s municipal water supply is actually really good for your teeth.  It has a slightly basic pH, which helps it fight acid attacks from cavity-causing bacteria.  Swishing water after a sugar-packed snack does two things.  First, it physically flushes away food particles that remain on the teeth.  Next, it helps to bring the pH in your mouth back to neutral quickly.

Whether you’re enjoying your favorite sweet potato casserole topped with candied pecans at Christmas dinner or just having a hot cocoa between meals, drinking water with it automatically makes you healthier!

  1. Then add Ice Cubes.

Ice CubesIce Cubes gum, that is.  By chewing gum after a sweet treat, you tell your salivary glands to keep making saliva.  Saliva is a vital weapon in the fight against dental plaque and the bad, cavity-causing bacteria that it contains.  Saliva contains minerals that help re-harden the enamel after sugary acid attacks.  It is basic in pH, so it neutralizes those acids.  It’s ALL good!

Another specific advantage of Ice Cubes gum is that its main ingredient is xylitol.  Each piece actually contains 2 grams of xylitol, which is a sugar substitute.  It’s a natural sweetener found in plants that bacteria in the mouth cannot digest.  They eat it, and then they die.  Chewing xylitol-containing gum after snacks helps keep your teeth healthy and strong.

  1. Don’t forget your bedtime routine.

Flossing (3)With the holidays comes a break from the routine.  We all need a break.  Just don’t take a break from your bedtime routine of oral hygiene.  You may be at risk for falling asleep on the couch while watching yet another Hallmark Christmas movie.  If there’s a chance you might not wake up enough to brush and floss, then do it before your start the show.

Skipping the nighttime brushing and flossing leaves dangerous dental plaque on your teeth.  Plaque is the soft, whitish buildup that collects on the teeth throughout the day.  It contains bacteria (bad), food debris (bad), and exfoliated tissue cells from the lining of your mouth (not necessarily bad, but still a little gross, right?).  NOT cleaning it off each night puts you at risk for cavities, gum disease, and stinky breath.

  1. Optional: Add fluoride.

FluorideIf you tend to have a higher risk for cavities than average, you should consider adding fluoride for added protection against damage from sweets.  How do you know if you have a high risk for cavities?  Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara can tell you, but you can also answer a few questions to get an idea.

  • Do you frequently drink sugary beverages between meals? Especially for prolonged periods of time (i.e., sipping on a fountain drink all afternoon)?
  • Have you had 3 or more new cavities within the last 3 years?
  • Have you undergone chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer?
  • Have you had a tooth pulled due to a large cavity in the last 3 years?
  • Do you have a severely dry mouth?
  • Do you have a lot of existing dental work in your mouth?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you probably have a relatively high cavity risk.  If so, talk to Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara about how you can add professional fluoride treatments to your preventive care at the office or a prescription strength fluoride toothpaste or gel at home.

More Questions about Holiday Treats and Cavity Risk?

Call 972-347-1145 today to schedule a visit with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  We want you to have the best Christmas ever and not hear any bad news at your next dental appointment.

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