How Does Wassail Affect the Teeth?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  For most of us, that means plenty of sweet treats, Christmas parties, and lots of fun, festive drinks.  If wassail is one of your favorite holiday beverages, this blog is for you!

What is Wassail?

Wassail is a hot, spiced cider.  It comes in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions.  Tradition attaches the drink wassail to those who go door-to-door singing Christmas carols, calling it “wassailing”. 

Most versions of wassail contain a variety of fruit juices or ciders, with the most common being apple cider.  They typically have added spices, like cloves and nutmeg, and slices of fresh fruit like oranges and lemons.

Is Wassail Bad for Your Teeth?

Unfortunately, yes.

Wassail is a double-threat when it comes to cavity risk.  Not only does it have a very high sugar content (some versions have around thirty grams of sugar in every eight-ounce serving!); wassail also has an acidic pH.

The sugar and acid combine to form the same risk for cavities that we see from sodas, sports drinks, and fruit juices. 

Bacteria living in dental plaque ingest (eat) sugar from our diets and convert it to acid.  It is this acid that softens and weakens tooth enamel, enabling the bacteria to penetrate into the tooth.  When the oral environment is already acidic, it takes even less sugar to start a cavity. 

How to Enjoy Wassail and Protect Your Teeth at the Same Time

Being vigilant about your oral health does not mean that you cannot have any fun over the holidays.  It just means you might need to step it up a notch when it comes to prevention.

Do not Skip the Dentist

Keeping up with your consistent professional teeth cleanings and check-ups is an essential part of maintaining a healthy mouth.  The preventive care that you receive from your dental hygienist helps protect your teeth against the acid attacks of dental plaque.  That means you can enjoy a little more wassail.

Practice Great Oral Hygiene

You cannot rely on your six-month cleanings alone.  You have to maintain great oral hygiene at home.  When you brush and floss on a daily basis, you are removing dental plaque that houses dangerous, cavity-causing bacteria. 

If you remove these bacteria from your teeth, they cannot create cavities from the sugar in your wassail!

Add Fluoride or Another Remineralizing Agent

Bacteria in dental plaque cause cavities by digesting sugar in your wassail and producing acid.  This acid softens and weakens enamel (a process called demineralization), allowing the bacteria to penetrate and work their way deeper into the tooth.  We can fight this process by using remineralizing agents.  They can reverse the process of demineralization in its early stages.

Fluoride is the easiest remineralizing agent to find, as it is widely available in over-the-counter toothpastes and mouthwashes.  You can also receive professional fluoride treatments from your dentist for added protection.

For those who want to avoid fluoride, other remineralizing agents are available through various online vendors.  Look for products that contain nano-hydroxyapatite, amorphous calcium phosphate (ACP), and arginine. 

More Questions about Your Favorite Holiday Drinks?

Call Prosper Family Dentistry at 972-347-1145 to schedule a visit with Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara, Dr. Summer or one of our wonderful dental hygienists.  We can answer any question you have about your favorite beverage and how it could affect your oral health.

Wishing all of our patients a very happy and healthy Christmas!

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