It’s no secret that we tend to eat a lot of sugar-filled treats around the holiday season. Cookies, cakes, candy canes, eggnog, sparkling ciders, and wines are all packed with sugar that can do some serious damage to our teeth. Making an appointment for a dental exam and cleaning is never a bad idea during the holiday season. However, we can also take further steps to prevent cavities and tooth decay, and help our mouths feel happy through Christmas, New Year’s, and beyond. This article will discuss the effects of sugar on the teeth and give some fun tips and ideas for a sugar free holiday.
Is Sugar Really Bad for the Teeth?
All sugars, but most prominently refined sugars and manufactured sugars such as white sugar and corn syrup, are terrible for the structure of the teeth. Sugar causes a major buildup of plaque and tartar, and it is difficult to clean it out. Sugar can quickly and easily cause cavities in multiple teeth, and because of the spread of tartar, it can also cause tooth weakness and decay.
To further explain, plaque is a bacterium that feeds off of sugars. The synthetic sugars found in sodas and candy are some of the worst offenders, and can help these harmful bacteria create an acid that further breaks down the enamel on your teeth. With decreasing enamel and increasing plaque, sugars can lead your mouth to certain doom.
What About Natural Sugars Like Fruit and Nuts?
While too much fruit can also lead to the same bacterial issues, naturally occurring sugars do not present as great of a health risk as synthetic sugars do. It would take exponentially more fruit to destroy your teeth than it would candy and soda. In some cases, fructose is healthy – but of course, everything should be taken in moderation!
Sugar Free Holiday Tips
There are several easy ways to lower the amount of sugar intake or to cut sugar altogether this Christmas. Following these easy steps can help your teeth be jolly this season and participate in all of the festivities. You will still be able to indulge in all of your favorite goodies and feel satisfied for months to come!
● If you are craving a sweet or a snack, try replacing your sugary treats with apples and nuts. While still very sweet, these items contain natural sugar and won’t cause a buildup of acid and plaque on your teeth. Slice up apples into slices and add nuts for a healthy candy cane colored treat!
● Use alternative sweeteners to sugars. Natural sweet alternates like stevia, honey, and agave nectar add almost the same exact flavor as sugar, without the dangerous risk to your oral hygiene. Stevia and agave can be added to baking recipes for cookies and cakes, or can be used as sweeteners in drinks like coffee and tea. The uses are endless, and your kids won’t notice the difference!
● Don’t give up on wine! While most alcoholic beverages such as champagne can contain a lot of harmful sugar, it is acceptable to settle for a sweet alternative like red wine instead. Red wine is full of healthy antioxidants, and the sugar levels are not overwhelming. However, it may be best to leave the egg nog and sparkling cider at home.
Even Santa Can Cut Out on Sugar
If you and your family follow the tradition of leaving a tasty treat out for Santa on the night of Christmas Eve, this too can still be maintained while providing a healthier alternative. Your kids can encourage Saint Nick to practice good oral hygiene right alongside them. Offer a plate of strawberries and nuts instead, and the jolly man will be sure to stop by!