It’s December, which means the holiday season is in full swing. The parties, the gatherings with family and friends, the nostalgia and tradition, the food. Oh, the food.
Unfortunately, some beloved holiday edibles, while delicious, can do serious damage to your dental health. Others, happily, actually help keep your teeth and gums in good condition. Read on to see which foods Santa might put on his “naughty” and “nice” lists for oral health.
Santa’s Nice List
Feel free to fill up on these festive and traditional holiday foods.
What is more iconic than a gorgeous, glistening, perfectly browned turkey on the holiday table? It is the centerpiece and the star of the meal — and also happens to be good for your dental health. Turkey is an excellent source of essential protein. It also contains phosphorus, which, along with calcium, works to strengthen teeth. Just hold off on the cranberry sauce — or look for a suger-free recipe. While cranberries have been found to possess an enzyme that repels bacteria from the teeth, the added sugar in traditional cranberry sauces will counter any positive effects.
Put out a beautifully arranged cheese tray for your guests. Not only is cheese an elegant and irresistible way to start off a holiday gathering, but it is wonderful for your teeth. Like all dairy products, cheese is loaded with calcium. This mineral is stored in your bones and teeth and is responsible for keeping them strong and healthy. Cheese also has a benefit that other dairy products haven’t been shown to share: eating it raises the pH level of your mouth. This makes your teeth and gums more resistant to bacteria and decay.
Raw, crunchy vegetables like carrots, celery, and peppers are low in calories, packed with vitamins and minerals, and good for your teeth, too! They are high in fiber and water, and eating them stimulates saliva production in your mouth. This helps wash away food particles and harmful bacteria that cause decay. And a colorful crudite tray is a lovely addition to any party or gathering. Veggies help balance otherwise heavy holiday meals. Serve with a yogurt-based dip for an extra dose of tooth-friendly deliciousness.
Deviled eggs are a crowd-pleaser at any party, and they get the green light when it comes to your teeth. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, and the yolks are rich in vitamin D. What is the role of vitamin D in oral health? Well, we’ve already discussed the importance of calcium in maintaining the strength and structure of your teeth. In order for the calcium to be properly absorbed and utilized by the body, we need vitamin D.
Put out bowls of mixed nuts for your guests. Sprinkle toasted nuts on a salad for flavor and crunch. Nuts are delicious, nutrient-rich, and great for your teeth. Eating them stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, cleansing it of bacteria and food particles. They are low in carbohydrates, so they don’t cause harmful bacteria to proliferate. Plus, nuts are filling, so you won’t be tempted to overindulge on the less-healthy stuff.
Santa’s Naughty List
The season comes around only once per year, so we aren’t going to say you have to avoid these foods completely, but try to keep consumption of them to a minimum.
Sweet, rich eggnog may be a beloved holiday tradition, but it’s not so good for your teeth. It coats them in sugar, which is difficult to remove completely. This encourages the growth of bacteria, which create acids that damage your tooth enamel and cause cavities. Adding booze to the drink compounds the negative effects. If you must get your eggnog fix, follow it up with a glass of cleansing water. (Or, even better, brush your teeth.)
Dense, candied-fruit studded fruitcake is a holiday treat that some people love to hate — and others just love. If you fall into the latter camp, practice moderation. The dense cake and candied fruits may get stuck in the teeth, where their sugars promote bacteria proliferation and decay.
Like all hard candies, candy canes create a sugary solution when they melt in your mouth. This coats your teeth, is difficult to remove, and causes bacteria to grow and produce enamel-damaging acids.
Have a wonderful holiday season, and we hope to see you soon at Texas Grins Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry! To book an appointment, fill out our online form or call our Willow Park, TX office at 817-779-7111.