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Teeth care tips for the season of eating

According to Lizabeth Spoonts, associate clinical professor of dental hygiene at Texas Woman’s University, there are ways for your teeth to survive the sweets and snacks associated with season’s eatings.

Spoonts says cavities are caused by eating foods high in sugar or carbohydrates, which are consumed by the bacteria in our mouths. These bacteria produce acid that leads to caries or cavities in the teeth. She suggests some tips, based on the American Dental Association guidelines, for a cavities-free holiday:

  1. Watch the timing of your snacks.
    Spoonts says sugary snacks or desserts should be eaten with a meal or shortly thereafter due to an increase in saliva. Saliva helps to lessen the amount of acid produced by sugar and helps rinse away food particles. 
  2. Be picky if it’s sticky.
    Many times, people reach for dried fruits such as cranberries as an alternative snack to cakes or cookies. Spoonts says while dried fruit is a good nutritious snack, it does have a tendency to stick to the tooth surface for longer periods of time. Rinse often with water if you indulge in dried fruits for your holiday snacking or at any other time of the year.
  3. Limit your alcohol intake/drink water with alcoholic beverages.
    Spoonts advises that if you choose to drink alcohol, have water alongside it. Eggnog and holiday punch can pack a lot of sugar, contributing to the opportunity for bacterial accumulation and caries to take hold. Drinking water alongside your holiday beverage will help to avoid a dry mouth, which also can contribute to caries formation.
  4. Avoid hard holiday candy.
    Hard holiday candy contains a large amount of sugar, along with the risk for fractured teeth. Instead of hard candy, Spoonts recommends a healthy alternative, such as nuts.
  5. Beware of starch food.
    Spoonts suggests you watch out for starchy foods that often get trapped in between your teeth. If you choose cakes, cookies, or chips, brush well after eating and clean between your teeth using dental floss.
  6. Enjoy the holidays… in moderation.
    According to Spoonts, you should enjoy yourself, but not too much, during the holiday eating season. When possible, choose healthy alternatives to foods with high sugar or starch content, such as lean meats, low fat dairy, raw vegetables, cheeses, yogurt and fresh fruit.

Spoonts says you can help prevent tooth decay year-round by following these easy tips:

  • Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Clean between your teeth with dental floss or interdental cleaner.
  • Eat nutritious and well-balanced meals and limit snacking.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral examination.

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Page last updated 3:54 PM, July 8, 2019