The holidays are here, and that means plenty of delicious food and fun-filled time spent with family. But as the seasonal treats stack up, dentists grow concerned for our pearly whites. Plus, in close quarters next to uncles and grandmas and cousins, one of the last things anyone wants is bad breath. So, take a look at these foods that give dentists the holiday blues:
As tasty as this Christmas tradition is, eggnog is a doozy for your oral health. The drink is loaded with sugar and fat - a recipe that yields 6 cups calls for a 1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 pint of whole milk and 1 cup of heavy cream. The sugar coats teeth for hours after consumption, working to wear away at dental enamel. To worsen things, bourbon, rum or brandy (common liquors added to eggnog) may induce dry mouth later on in the night. Without enough saliva, the mouth becomes vulnerable for bacteria growth that can create raunchy breath and tooth decay. To have your eggnog and drink it too, rinse your mouth with water afterward or better yet, after each sip.
Candy canes are pure sugar - the two main ingredients are sugar and corn syrup. As you know, sugar wreaks havoc on teeth and is the one of the leading causes of tooth decay. However, besides these ingredients, a big reason why dentists advise limiting this treat is the prolonged time it spends on your pearly whites. Hard candies take longer to eat, which drenches your mouth in sugar for hours. If Santa drops these treats in your stocking this year, he should also consider pairing them with some toothpaste and teeth whitening kits.
A staple in the Jewish tradition for Hanukkah, potato latkes are shallow-fried pancakes made of grated potato, flour and egg. While the potato pancake itself is not too threatening, many people dip it in sides like table sugar. Instead, make a point to eat them with sugar-reduced apple sauce or on their own.
Caramel in all shapes and forms make dentists wary. Worse than hard candy, this sticky substance clings to dental enamel long after being eaten. When it's drizzled on popcorn, gooey-covered pieces tend to get lodged between teeth. No wonder you're picking at your molars. A good rule to stand by: Sugar should stay in the mouth as briefly as possible. In other words, leave the caramel popcorn on the shelf when you're watching Christmas movies on repeat.
While no one's saying you must abstain from these treats completely, just make sure to eat them in moderation. The best thing you can do for your smile this season is avoid grazing on foods over long periods of time. When you snack on munchies, food particles linger on your teeth and gums, which can cause irritation. It's also helpful to rinse down treats with water.