Oh, the holidays! They're a celebration of everything we stand for at Aspen Grove Dental. But, let's face it, they're also filled with a barrage of tempting foods that can derail your careful attention to keeping your teeth healthy.
Hark! We bring good news! In this holiday eating guide, we share the best traditional foods for indulging, the ones to avoid (or at least minimize) and some of our favorite recipes of the season. You might be surprised at how delicious your healthy dental holiday can be.
The Holiday Dilemma
During this time of the year, weight gain is not the only danger to your healthy lifestyle. The abundance of sugary, starchy and sticky foods that are often the traditional fare during the holidays pose risks to your oral health as well.
When sugar and starches come in contact with the plaque on your teeth, it produces acid that can attack your teeth for 20 minutes or more after consuming them. Over-indulgence of the wrong foods can increase your risk of tooth decay, periodontal decay and sometimes tooth loss.
Spotting Danger On Your Plate
We all know foods like fudge and cookies contain a lot of sugar. But, it's not just the amount of sugar in a food that counts. Foods like dried fruits and breads are high in starches that are easily converted to sugar in your body.
The amount of time a food is in your mouth matters, too. Breads, dried fruits and stickier foods like fruit cake or gummy bears can be troublesome because they aren't as easily washed out from between the teeth by your saliva. The longer these particles remain in contact with your teeth, the longer they're under attack. Similarly cough drops, breath mints and candy canes subject your teeth to extended acid attacks while they're in your mouth.
Have Your Cake and Eat It Too (In Moderation)
Lo! It's not all deprivation and lumps of coal. With the right strategy you can make this your healthiest - and yummiest - holiday season ever.
There are still plenty of ways to indulge your sweet tooth and enjoy decadently-rich fare without completely destroying your dental care regime. Vitamins A, C and D and minerals like calcium and phosphorous, that are necessary for optimal oral health, are stars in many traditional holiday meals.
Turkey, mashed potatoes, cheeses, nuts and vegetables of any kind all contain one or more of these vitamins and minerals. Go ahead and indulge for a day. Just be sure to brush and floss; maybe even more than twice during the day.
Tasty Holiday Recipes
As a small gift to you, we've pulled together some tasty holiday-time fare that will have you savoring your holiday this year.
Pears make a great alternative to citrus fruits that are high in acids and sugars. Honey is an antiseptic and yogurt contains calcium and phosphates that strengthen and re-mineralize teeth.
Vegetables are the best way to get the vitamins and minerals you need. Replacing your usual oil with sesame oil has been shown to reduce plaque and, in some case, improve gingivitis.
Cheese, like all milk products, contains Casein which help fortify the surface of your teeth. It's also a great source of calcium. Nuts bring more calcium plus important minerals that strengthen and re-mineralize teeth. And, their chewy texture produces extra saliva that can also fight germs and prevent decay. Cranberries contain flavonoids that can hider bacteria from sticking to the teeth and forming plaque.
Increasing your water intake during the holidays is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy during the holidays. These sugar-free infusion recipes are a great way to make plain-ole water more festive. You may not realize it, but alcohol causes natural saliva production to decrease. Switching to water early will not only help prevent this, but drinking more water can keep you from getting too dehydrated from dry indoor heat. Also, think about taking a few good gulps after sneaking one of those more sticky treats. It will help dislodge leftover particles from between your teeth.
Do you have a traditional recipe that makes your family swoon and forget that it could actually be better for them than they think?
'Tis the season to spread the love and share it with your Aspen Grove Dental family.
With thanks and blessings this holiday season.