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Poor Dental Hygiene and Ample Holiday Sweets can be Tough on Your Teeth

dental hygiene

What The Holiday Season means for your dental hygiene

There is no better time than the holidays for your sweet tooth to come forth. What with all those delicious holiday sweets, treats, and comfort food around; how in the world can someone resist? Unfortunately, dental hygiene seems to take a back seat among all these sweets and goodies.

Eating more than usual is inevitable during the Christmas holiday season. Holiday sweets come in plentiful variety. For many of us, we just have to get a taste of them all! After all, the holidays only come around once a year. Even the most stringent weight-watchers have a tough time stopping their cravings. This increased food intake, especially holiday sweets, could do great damage to your teeth. If you don’t follow the proper dental hygiene practices, you will get cavities by the time Spring comes around.


How your dental hygiene slowly falls behind

Normally, we don’t snack on toffees and candies as often. However, after eating any sugars, a sticky film of bacteria called plaque forms on our teeth. They colonize our mouth to feed off leftover food particles sticking to the surface of our enamel. While most of this bacterial layer washes off with saliva, some bacteria remain on the teeth’s surface.

When the bacterial colony can feed off sugar molecules, your teeth take the damage. The plaque is acidic in nature, and it will gradually weaken the enamel. Eventually, over time, the acid reaches the dentin. Not only will this acidic seepage damage your dentin, but food particles may also enter the tooth’s soft tissue. This becomes an infection and eventual tooth decay.

Now, during the holidays, our teeth faces constant acid damage because of so many sweets. Poor dental hygiene will greatly accelerate this acidity. People who don’t brush twice a day or use a good mouthwash often enough will damage their teeth. Also remember that some sweets like caramel stick to our teeth longer than others.

So how to protect our teeth and improve dental hygiene during this season of merriment, and still enjoy your holiday sweets?


Reduce risks with our dental hygiene method

First, since holiday sweets are impossible to avoid, a lesser evil is to balance your consumption. Try enjoy your sweets before other foods. During meals, you produce more saliva. This lessens the impact of holiday sweets as saliva neutralizes the acidity, and rinses out food particles more easily.

Secondly, if there is one universal agent for cleansing, it’s water. Increase your water intake as you increase your food and sugar intake. Fluoridated water helps fight off plaque and tooth decay. It is best to check the label of your bottled water for its Fluoride content. More often than not, bottled water has the sufficient amount of Fluoride you need.

Finally, there is no substitute to brushing and flossing. If there is a time to be more consistent about your dental hygiene habits, it’s the holiday season. Maintain a steady “two minutes, twice a day” habit. However be careful not to brush immediately after eating food or drinking sugary beverages which are high in acid content. All acids soften the enamel. The friction from immediate brushing will weaken your enamel.


Snacking exposes your teeth more frequently to acid that promotes decay. If you wish to snack, consider nutritious foods instead of  too many holiday sweets. It would be a good idea to balance out the sweets you really enjoy. Sticky sweets that cling to your teeth like caramel, licorice, and gum drops will linger much longer than chocolate. But perhaps the simplest dental hygiene solution is having a sugar-free chewing gum as an after-snack. Xylitol in sugar free chewing gum will protect you teeth, and neutralize the  acidity. Also, since chewing gum is a very popular treat, this seems to be a fun solution!


FAQ: Which holiday sweets are less harmful to my teeth?

Holiday sweets that take a few minutes to finish have a lesser risk of causing tooth decay. The less time your teeth is covered in sugar, the fewer chances there are of developing tooth decay. Choose holiday sweets you can chew and swallow right away. Pies, cakes, and cookies are awesome treats that wash away with a glass of warm milk, coffee, or drinking chocolate. Dark chocolate is one holiday sweet great for dental hygiene. According to studies, unsweetened cocoa actually prevents bacterial growth!


FAQ: Which holiday sweets should I avoid?

Stay away from any holiday sweets that cling to your teeth. Popular treats like candy cane, rock candy, and gooey caramel bars stay for ages in your mouth. They continually damage teeth from the sugar and acid for hours after consumption. Even if you have an affinity for hard and sticky types of candy, counter it with better dental hygiene practices. We shouldn’t brush immediately after sweets, can safely use a mouthwash about four times a day. Since rinsing is soft on your teeth and gums, it is your best solution against tooth damage from holiday sweets.


Follow our Tips on the Best Dental Hygiene Habits for the Holidays!

Dental health experts at Des Moines Dental Group are always eager to answer questions about dental hygiene and oral health. Visit our Urbandale Clinic, or come down to 2333 McKinley Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50321 for your appointment. You may also visit our website, or call us at 515-512-5377 or 515-512-5339.

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