It’s the middle of the holiday season, and between shopping, travel, and event planning, teeth are probably the last thing anyone is thinking about. But the foods we indulge in over the holiday season can be some of the worst and most dangerous for our teeth!

Many people go into January with the goal of losing holiday weight, but it’s less common to start your New Year with a resolution to have better oral hygiene. It’s important to keep your oral health in the back of your mind as you choose which foods to eat and which foods to skip during this time of year, so you don’t have to pick up the pieces in January.

Candy Canes

This classic winter treat is not only packed full of sugar, putting your teeth in danger of decay, but they are among the worst sugar delivery systems around. With a candy cane or other hard candy, you suck on the candy over a prolonged period, which gives oral bacteria a sustaining supply.

Candy canes also threaten cracked or chipped teeth in some cases! Hard candy might seem harmless, but all it takes it biting down on it the wrong way to sustain tooth damage that you’ll need a dentist to fix. This year, consider sticking to candy canes for their decorative uses, rather than their edible ones!

Holiday foods can damage your teeth

Alcohol

While not strictly food, enjoying a drink with friends or family around the holiday season is part of the holiday festivities.

And a damaging one when it comes to your teeth. Spirits like bourbon, commonly added to eggnog, can create a dry environment in the mouth that nurtures bacteria. This can lead to bad breath at the least, and at the worst, even an increased likelihood of gum disease.

Gingerbread Houses

Gingerbread houses might be fun to put together and display, but they’re a minefield for your oral health! Gingerbread, especially when left out over time, can easily get hard enough to damage your teeth. Those chewy candies used to decorate the roof and gables of your miniature house might look tasty, but they’re creating a lot of extra work for your jaw, which could lead to jaw pain (particularly for people who suffer from symptoms of TMJ). Plus, the whole thing is loaded up with sugar. Yikes!

Eggnog

Even without the bourbon, eggnog has high sugar content, which creates an attractive environment for bacteria in your mouth. Additionally, oral bacteria thrive on the proteins in dairy. This means that eggnog is a dangerous combination for your teeth, and even more dangerous if it’s spiked.

Fruitcake and Dried Fruit

While a fruitcake or some winter dried fruits might seem like a healthier alternative to the sweets that are usually offered at holiday gatherings, they’re unfortunately still bad for your teeth. Dried fruit can aggravate the jaw due to all the chewing it requires, not to mention that fruit sugars are just as likely to encourage decay in your mouth as the sugars in cookies. Fruitcake is doubly dangerous because the sticky, dense nature of this baked good can be strong enough to dislodge crowns, or even teeth that are in a weakened state.

As with anything, moderation is the key to keeping your teeth safe during this season of threatening foods! If you are going to indulge in any of these treats, just take care to brush and floss well after eating. Or, consider helping out yourself and your friends and family by bringing some tooth-friendly foods to your holiday gatherings!

And of course, don’t forget that regular cleanings are imperative for good oral health! Dr. Kenneth Siegel is here to help with any holiday dental emergencies, or to give you a thorough New Year cleaning to get that holiday grime off. Call us at (610) 272-0828 or request an appointment online.