With Christmas holding the number one occasion for buying candies and sweets, it doesn’t seem surprising, then, that many dentists fear the unintended consequences on teeth. If you want to keep your teeth free of cavities and dental problems, follow these seasonal tips:

Switch to sugar-free sweets

You might think that sugary snacks are just the best, but so do the bacteria in your mouth that are responsible for tooth decay. When you eat sugary foods these cavity-causing bacteria produce acids that eat away at the enamel of your teeth. By picking sweets that are sugar-free, you can enjoy the taste of the candies without the hungry bacteria and corrosive acids. You can go a step further by searching for candies that contain xylitol, which helps reduce the buildup of plaque. It is a sweetener rather than an artifical sugar, which makes it better than sugar substitutes like Splenda and Stevia.

Chew a stick of (sugar-free) gum after meals

The benefits of sugar-free candy extend beyond the fact that they don’t contain sugar. Sugar-free gums and candies also help produce extra saliva that can wash away bacteria and plaque. When you chew on a piece of sugar-free gum after a meal, you also can remove trapped food material. If you chew gum for about 20 minutes after a meal you should be able to reap these benefits. Look for gums labeled with the ADA seal, which means the gum has non-cavity causing sweeteners.

Enjoy dark chocolate

Diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease don’t just affect your body. Studies have shown an association between these diseases and dental health, too. That’s why if you are a chocoholic, it’s best to opt for dark chocolate because it’s packed with flavonoids, or compounds that protect your heart. Milk chocolate and white chocolate just don’t offer you the same protective benefits. When stocking up on holiday bars to pass out to family or friends (or save for yourself) look for ones that contain over 60% cocoa. Otherwise, you won’t reap the heart-protective benefits and you will add a lot of calories and fat to your diet.

Don’t stock sticky sweets

Gummy bears and taffy may be tasty treats and easy to fit into a stocking, but these sticky candies can do more harm than good. This goes not only for chewy candies, but also dried fruits such as cranberries, which are a common holiday staple. Not only do chewy candies and dried fruits make for a harder eating experience that works your jaw and teeth, but those particles tend to linger longer on your teeth, increasing the cavity risk. For a child with braces, chewy candies can mean a trip to the dentist.

If you have any other questions or want to learn how to prevent cavities in your teeth or a loved one’s, contact our office. We are here to be a tool during the holidays so you can enjoy time with your loved ones and not visit the dentist more than you need to!