Holiday treats filled with sugar are not only bad for our waistlines – they also do serious damage to our teeth. You may not realize how bad an excess amount of sugar is for your pearly whites, but after reading this you will know exactly which candies to avoid.
The number one culprit on our list is the quintessential holiday treat: the candy cane. It wasn’t until the 1600s that people began using candy canes as decorations in their homes at Christmas time, and it took another 250 years before they were mass produced by Gregory Keller who invented a machine that automated the process for putting the crook in the candy cane. Before the invention of the Keller Machine, all candy canes were bent by hand, many of which snapped as they cooled too fast and ended up in the trash.
Today, an astounding 1.7 billion candy canes are sold each year, and the modern candy cane is typically made of sugar, corn syrup and added color. This is not a good mixture for your teeth! The effects of sugar on your teeth may make you put that candy cane down for good: There is harmful oral bacteria that feeds on the sugars you eat and creates acids which destroy enamel. Since candy canes are essentially pure sugar, they are a treat best avoided entirely.
Everyone has seen those holiday popcorn bins that have a variety of flavors: caramel covered popcorn, cheese covered popcorn, and chocolate drizzled popcorn. These popcorns may not seem like obvious problems for your dental health but they are worse than you may realize. One problem with popcorn is that kernels can very easily slide into your gum line and get lodged in a place that you can’t reach. A stuck kernel will lead to bacterial growth that can create cavities or other dental problems. Unpopped kernels of popcorn can also break and damage your teeth.
Dried fruit may seem like a health-conscious alternative to all the sweets being passed around but sadly it also makes our list for worst holiday treats. Dried fruit includes raisins, figs and dried apricots, which undoubtedly are nutritious but they are also packed with sugar and something called non-cellulous fiber. Non-cellulous fiber will trap sugar on the teeth and create a hotspot for bacterial growth. Since this is an otherwise healthy treat, it is probably best to not entirely forgo dried fruit but instead to try to rinse out your mouth or brush your teeth after eating it.
Even if you maintain proper dental hygiene, you cannot remove all of the stains that are on your teeth, and sadly, chocolate is indeed an offender when it comes to staining your teeth. Not only is this delicious drink full of sugar, but hot chocolate will also cause some discoloration to your not-so-pearly whites. One way to offset the damage done by hot chocolate is to either swish some water in your mouth so the hot chocolate doesn’t sit on your teeth or you can just brush your teeth afterward drinking it.
The festive holiday treats are hard to resist but keeping these sweets in mind will help you to make informed choices for your dental health. Call us for a dental check up to keep your smile healthy.