The holidays are a time when a lot of people choose to indulge in sweet treats considerably more often than they do the rest of the year. For most people, it’s simply because they’re enjoying time with friends and family and an extra slice of pie just doesn’t seem like too bad of an idea in the long run. After all, you can always exercise it off after the holiday season is over, right?
While you might be able to burn off excess calories from holiday treats, you can’t undo the damage to your teeth that some holiday foods can bring. This year, try to steer clear of these foods that can damage your teeth, even if you find them around the dinner table or on the coffee table as snacks.
#1: Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is a good alternative to sweet fruit pies and baked goods over the holiday season when it comes to your waistline, but it really is one of the worst things you can do to your teeth. The reason dried fruit is so bad for your teeth is because it usually contains a great deal of sugar, and when chewed, the sticky pieces are likely to wedge themselves in the cracks between your teeth. That sugar turns into bacteria which breed cavities, and before you know it, you’ve got damaged teeth.
Fresh fruit that hasn’t been dried or preserved is a better alternative since it won’t get stuck in your teeth and there’s no chance it will have added sugar.
Popcorn is one of those deceptive holiday foods that a lot of people eat because it isn’t quite so rich or fatty. Unfortunately, popcorn is one of the worst things for your teeth because the kernels can easily get lodged between your teeth and gum line, allowing bacteria to build up and do its damage.
Flavored types of popcorn like caramel corn are also very common during the holiday season, and it should be obvious that the mixture of potential bacteria building kernels and a lot of sticky sugar could damage your teeth.
If you’re going to eat popcorn over the holidays, go for plain varieties or ones that don’t contain sugar, like white cheddar popcorn.
Whether you like your stuffing inside the turkey or you make it on its own as a side dish, there’s no doubt that it is synonymous with the holiday season. Sadly, it really is one of the worst things you can subject your teeth to over the holiday season.
Stuffing can easily damage your teeth because it’s so high in starch, which is then converted to sugar that will stick to your teeth. The soft nature of stuffing also lends itself to getting stuck in every single crack between your teeth and not going anywhere until you brush and floss the next time.
Stuffing prepared with dried fruit like cranberries or chopped apricots is even worse for your teeth because of the added sugar content.
Dried fruit, popcorn and stuffing are all pretty bad for your teeth, and if left unchecked, can do some serious damage. So does that mean that you have to avoid them completely over the holiday season?
The short answer is no, but with one very important caveat. When you eat these foods, you need to take steps to get them out of your mouth and teeth as fast as possible. In most cases, that means using dental floss and brushing, even if you have to carry those items with you to dinner. Chewing gum with Xylitol also helps clean teeth after meals.Photo credit: Foter / CC BY-SA