The holidays are upon us, and ’tis the season for a bit of togetherness (and a lot of indulgence). We don’t all celebrate the same holidays or adhere to the same belief systems, but there is one thing that seems to unite us all: comfort food.
Cold weather and sweets go hand-in-hand. What’s a good snowball fight without a warm cup of cocoa to come home to? Even in warmer climates, it’s difficult to dissuade dreams of sugar plums after a good night of classic movies with your family. So, while this “soul food” may be good for your spirits, take a moment to think about what it’s doing to your teeth.
Sugar can wreck havoc on your pearly whites. It’s a complicated process, but here’s the scoop. Bacteria in your mouth use sweets as energy, growing and multiplying faster than they would otherwise. Some bond with the sugar to form a sticky glue like substance called plaque. Plaque, in turn, produces acid. The acid dissolves the minerals that make your tooth enamel hard, and the surface becomes porous. The acid causes these tiny holes in the enamel to become bigger until a bigger hole appears. This is a cavity.
While ideally we would never expose our teeth to sugar or anything else that promotes tooth decay, that’s just not realistic. All we can do is try to minimize the damage and prevent dental cavity as much as possible by keeping a proper oral hygiene regimen. Don’t let your holiday routine interrupt your dental care regimen. Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, and floss at least once.
If you decide to indulge in more sweets than usual, it’s a good idea to brush more often. If you don’t have your toothbrush on hand, rinse your mouth out with warm water. Certain sugar-free gums can help as well. Choose those with Xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can help prevent tooth decay. And finally, try to mix up your snacks. If you’re eating a sugary treat, try to also eat a bit of cheese (or a similar protein) as well. Also don’t forget the effects of sugar on your whole body.
Nothing warms a chilly night like a big smile, so be sure to protect yours. Holidays, we tend to think more about others than ourselves. This holiday make your good health and your family’s your top priority.
By: Ladan Zinati