Treats or Threats: Holiday Food and Drink That Are Unfriendly to Your Teeth

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It’s the holiday season, and everyone is tempted to indulge in their favorite festive food and drink. Sweets are obvious culprits, but other food and drinks are as bad for your teeth as sweets. They’re as common in every dinner table as you might think. Look out for these items that are threats as much as they are treats.

Starchy Food

You can’t really avoid a stuffing, potato casserole, or crackers during the festive season. These starchy food items easily get stuck in your teeth or your ortho appliances. Once they get stuck, they break down into sugars that feed tooth decay-causing bacteria.

Citrus

Citrus fruits and juices are great sources of nutrients such as vitamin C, but their acidic quality is bad for your teeth. Lemon juice is the most acidic fruit drink, according to the FDA. If you want the same vitamin C goodness without damaging your pearly whites, go with orange juice. OJ is the least acidic fruit juice.

Alcohol

A lot of people like to enjoy alcohol during the holidays. It’s nice to enjoy a glass here and there, but celebratory spirits like wine won’t be kind to your pearly whites. Dry white wine contains about 3 grams of sugar for every 5-ounce serving. Drinking alcohol like bourbon can also dry your mouth, making it a hotbed for gum disease and tooth decay. Drinks with deep colors like red wine stains your teeth. Though staining from wine is temporary, you’ll have a reddish grin until you brush your teeth.

Caffeine

Coffee

Drinking coffee is a great way to unwind after a holiday party. It gives you much-needed alertness, whether you’re cleaning up or making your way home. Plus, the warmth of a hot cup of joe is just so inviting. Like wine, however, coffee stains your teeth. What’s worse is that the stain it causes could be permanent. Like bourbon, caffeine makes your mouth dry and invites harmful bacteria to grow there.

Takeaway: Everything in Moderation

Every great holiday party has at least one of each item mentioned above. Sure, they can damage your teeth, but they’ll only wreak havoc when consumed in great amounts. You can still enjoy them in moderation. If you want a complete change, substitute them with something healthier.

  • Try subbing flavored drinks like punch or juice for water. If you really want to serve juice to your guests, squeeze some oranges. OJ is both kind to your mouth and nutritious for the whole body.
  • Replace red wine and champagne with vodka. Although vodka is made with potato starch (and you learned that starch is kind of bad for your chompers), it’s great for your oral health. It kills bacteria in your mouth, resulting in fresher breath and healthier teeth.
  • If you still need that caffeine fix, brew some tea instead of coffee. Not only does it calm you down, black and green tea also decrease the risk of gum disease. These sacrifices to your holiday diet will help you and your guests start the new year with beautiful smiles.

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