Dental-related blog posts.

Dental Care Matters During Pregnancy

Dental Care Matters During Pregnancy
By Julia Stanek

While it may not necessarily be the first consideration during pregnancy, dental care is incredibly important for not only your health, but also the health of your developing baby. Changing hormones can alter oral health, making it necessary to integrate a new oral hygiene routine during pregnancy. A mother’s oral health can directly affect her pregnancy and the developing baby, so it is important to know how to properly care for yourself and in turn, your baby. While an increase in risk of complications due to changes in hormone levels can be difficult to control, other factors such as proper oral hygiene, a healthy diet, and communication can help to alleviate severe complications due to maternal periodontal disease.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can directly affect oral health.
During pregnancy, your body begins to experience many changes, including hormonal changes. An increase in hormone levels during pregnancy causes the gums to swell, bleed, and begin to trap food, which can cause major irritation to the gums. This irritation may cause oral health care to become painful and difficult to maintain. These changes can also affect the body’s ability to respond to bacteria, resulting in a greater risk of acquiring periodontal infections. Hormonal changes can increase the risk of developing gum disease and gingivitis, which if left untreated may lead to a more severe type of gum disease called periodontitis.
Not only is oral care important in maintaining your own health, poor oral health can directly affect your developing baby.
Studies show a link between periodontitis and premature birth and low birth weight. Premature birth is the leading cause of infant mortality and low birth weight can cause breathing problems, infections, and intraventricular hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain) in newborns. Low birth weight babies are also more likely to face a myriad of severe conditions later in life such as diabetes, heart disease, and intellectual and developmental disabilities. Periodontal disease can also cause a condition call preeclampsia. Preeclampsia affects the mother as well as the developing baby. Mothers can experience severe symptoms and even life threatening complications, while the condition can also prevent the placenta from receiving enough blood (meaning your baby does not get sufficient food and oxygen).
Integrating oral hygiene into your daily routine is the best way to avoid complications.
Dentists recommend scheduling preventative exams and cleanings during pregnancy, however unnecessary dental work should be postponed until after birth. Make sure to communicate with your dentist that you are pregnant and be ready to provide the names and dosages of any medications or supplements you may be taking. Diet is also important to consider. The American Dental Association recommends pregnant women eat a balanced diet, brush teeth thoroughly twice daily, and floss regularly. Diets consisting of dairy products are a good source of essential minerals and are good for the developing gums, teeth and bones of your growing baby. Avoid sugary snacks and make sure to brush immediately after eating anything high in sugar.
Approximately 40% of pregnancies are complicated by some form of periodontal disease. Although not every complication during pregnancy may be avoidable, mothers who maintain good oral health throughout pregnancy are more likely to avoid a wide array of significant risks for a baby’s health both during and after pregnancy. Perhaps most importantly, maintaining knowledge and awareness about how a mother’s health can directly affect her developing baby can help to decrease risks of maternal periodontal disease. Dental care is always important, but as potential risks arise during pregnancy due to multiple factors, it is vitally important to keep dental care at the forefront of your mind during pregnancy.

Don’t have a dental plan? My Generation Benefits can help!​ ​Click this link​ to learn about Dental for Everyone as well as how to decide which one might be best for you. You can receive personalized attention and assistance selecting a plan by calling 1-888-327-8880. Non-commissioned, non sales benefits specialists are able to assist Monday through Friday 9:00 am – 3:30 pm CST. Our benefits specialist will also be able to assist with questions by emailing info@capital-benefits.com.

Poll shows parents need clear guidance about pediatric oral health needs

In some cases, pediatricians don’t offer education about children’s oral health. In others, parents might not take it. Either way, parents who aren’t prompted by their pediatrician or other health professional don’t get their children the early dental care they need.

A new poll from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, reveals that of nearly 800 parents polled on oral health for their children, less than half were educated by a physician or dentist. Of the parents who were not educated by a healthcare provider on dental care, 17% believed their child didn’t need to see a dentist until age 4 years.

Both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend children begin visiting a dentist around age 1 year as teeth begin to emerge, but this poll makes it clear that education aimed at parents about dental care is lacking.

“For many families, the pediatrician is key to making sure parents understand the importance of early dentist visits, but this study shows that over half of parents don’t recall any recommendation from the pediatrician,” says Sarah J. Clark, MPH, associate research scientist for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan’s Child Health Evaluation and Research Center (CHEAR) and co-director of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. “Pediatrician guidance is particularly important because many parents don’t make routine dental visits themselves, so they are not in a position to get that information and guidance from the dentist.”

Recommended: How you can tackle oral healthcare

Clark says early dental care is important for establishing good dental health, and for early detection and treatment of tooth decay in children. However, there seem to be pockets of parents who are not receiving education about dental care.

According to the poll, 45% of parents reported receiving information from their child’s dentist or doctor about initiating regular dental visits, but parents in this group were typically from higher income and education brackets with private dental insurance. This divide is concerning, according to the poll researchers.

Tooth decay occurs in up to 40% of children by the time they reach kindergarten, according to the AAP, and poll researchers note that dental caries occur at higher rates in low-income populations. Many state Medicaid programs already fall short when it comes to dental coverage, and additional proposed cuts may exacerbate the problems further. Families are looking to affordable private insurance from providers like My Generation Benefits.

Whereas state programs are mandated to cover dental care for children, parents may not receive coverage or have restrictions in place in order to receive care. Poor dental health can not only affect an individual’s appearance and oral health, but it can also lead to infection and a host of other health problems. For these reasons, it’s important to educate all patients, particularly in cases in which parents also may not be receiving the dental care or education they need. Parents also find Dental care plans in these instances make more sense economically for their family and still see the same provider.

The poll also notes, however, that even when education is offered, parents might get outdated information or misunderstand the recommendations given to them.

Among parents who say they did receive education from a pediatrician or other physician about dental care, 47% reported that they believed children should first see a dentist at age 1 year or younger; another 47% thought the first dental visit should be between ages 2 and 3 years; and 6% of parents who received education from a provider thought dental visits should be delayed until age 4 years or later.

In comparison, among parents who received no education or information on dental care from a healthcare provider, just 35% believed dental visits should begin at age 1 year or younger; 48% reported dental care should begin between ages 2 and 3 years; and 17% stated that dental care should begin at age 4 years or older.

As far as overall compliance with dental care, 60% of the parents polled had taken their child for a dental visit, and the age at which they first took their child to the dentist matched the parents’ belief about when to start dental care 85% of the time. Nearly 80% of parents reported feeling that their child’s dental visit was worthwhile.

For the 40% of parents polled who had not ever taken their child to the dentist, researchers investigated why. Forty-two percent of parents who had not taken their child to the dentist believed that the child was not yet old enough; 25% believed their child’s teeth were healthy; and 15% felt their child would be afraid of the dentist.

In a statement about the poll results, researchers say that parents’ lack of awareness of dental care recommendations is understandable, considering how much guidelines have changed over the years. “Parents get much less guidance on when their child should go to the dentist compared to the doctor,” the statement continues.

Well visits for children begin immediately after birth, and the first few years of a child’s life are filled with scheduled assessments and vaccinations. Parents can easily become overwhelmed with all the information they receive at these visits, or physicians may run out of time to discuss dental care.

“A likely barrier is the time crunch to include all recommended elements of anticipatory guidance at well-child visits in the second year of life (ages 12, 15, and 18 months),” Clark says. “A related barrier is the challenge that parents have remembering all that advice—so a handout or ‘prescription’ to make a dentist appointment might be helpful.”

Next: Health literacy, a challenge in diverse populations

Clark says this poll is a good reminder to pediatricians to discuss dental care and to find new ways to educate parents.

“This is a great reminder for pediatricians that guidance to parents makes a difference,” Clark adds. “We don’t assume that parents know when to seek well-child visits and other aspects of preventive care—we guide them; the same is true for dental care. I hope this research encourages pediatricians to communicate clearly about the importance of early dental visits.”

 

Source: http://contemporarypediatrics.modernmedicine.com/contemporary-pediatrics/news/what-you-need-be-doing-about-oral-health

 

Keep the brain young, fight heart disease, maintain oral health? What is this super food?

Lovers of red wine, rejoice!

Researchers have now identified yet another reason why you should keep on enjoying this beverage.

Some of us love to savor a glass of red wine — or two — with dinner every once in a while.

The catch is that this velvety drink often leaves the teeth stained, so maybe it’s not such a good idea to order it on your first date or while out on a business dinner.

That being the case, it’s certainly not intuitive to infer that red wine could do anything for your oral health — the contrary, rather.

The research was led by M. Victoria Moreno-Arribas and colleagues from Instituto de Investigación en Ciencias de la Alimentación in Madrid, and the Department of Health and Genomics at the Center for Advanced Research in Public Health in Valencia.

Moreno-Arribas and team have now published their findings in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Moreno-Arribas and her colleagues have revealed another merit that speaks in favor of red wine: some of its components may protect against the formation of cavities and against gum disease.

The health benefits of red wine come from its content of polyphenols. These are a series of micro-nutrients with antioxidant properties. As antioxidants, they can protect against action of free radicals, which are unstable atoms that play a key role in the cellular aging process.

Polyphenols are nutritional superheroes with many secret weapons. One of these is their impact on our gut bacteria. Some polyphenols can be absorbed into the small intestine, there to interact with the gut microbiota and fend off some of the bacterial “bad guys” that might threaten our health.

Picking up on this thread, Moreno-Arribas and colleagues hypothesized that polyphenols found in red wine and grapes could have a similar, protective effect in the mouth, fending off harmful oral bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease.

What happens in the mouth

In the new study, the scientists first compared the effect of two types of polyphenol typically found in red wine (caffeic acid and p-coumaric acid) as well as that of red wine and grape seed extracts (Provinols and Vitaflavan) on three harmful oral bacteria: Fusobacterium nucleatumStreptococcus mutans, and Porphyromonas gingivalis.

What they found — experimenting with a laboratory model of gum tissue — was that the two red wine polyphenols caffeic acid and p-coumaric acid were most effective at repelling the harmful oral bacteria and preventing them from attaching to healthy tissue.

Next, they tested a mix of caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, and Streptococcus dentisani, which is an oral probiotic that, as recent research has suggested, may help to prevent tooth decay.

This experiment was even more successful, as the protective effect of the two polyphenols was enhanced by the presence of the probiotic.

Finally, the analysis of phenolic metabolites, which are substances formed as the polyphenols start transforming in the mouth, suggested that these small products may in fact be the “active ingredient” associated with the polyphenols’ protective effect.

So go ahead — pour yourself a glass of red wine tonight, safe in the thought that this drink, at least, won’t cause you any oral suffering. Of course, don’t overdo it; red wine is an alcoholic beverage, after all, and too much alcohol isn’t anyone’s friend.

Using a small wine glass, though, could help you curb your appetite a little, so you can delight your palate — and teeth and gums — with some polyphenols, while still keeping your gray matter quite safe.

Adapted article: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321028.php

Dentist inspecting patients mouth using a dental explorer

Dental Discount Plans vs Dental Plans

Dental Insurance vs. Dental Discount Plans

Over the last 10 years, 1 in 4 Americans have put off a needed dental procedure due to the high cost of oral health care.  Not surprising when you realize that the cost of dental care has soared by 20% over that same time.  The pain in the wallet that comes with a pain in your mouth has led many people to try to find another option; but which is the better option? Dental insurance? Too much coverage for you? How about a dental discount plan?

Even for those that have dental coverage as a part of their employee compensation package, they cannot always make full use of the coverage they do have.  Many dental insurance plans have coverage limits of only $1000 to $1500 dollars, and that’s after you meet your plans deductible.  Then there are the issues figuring out if your favorite dentist is in network, preauthorization requirements for many needed procedures, which can take weeks or even months, and finding out that your insurance doesn’t cover all your needed procedures.   Most plans require you to be in the program for a period of time before you can be authorized for root canals or fillings, so even if you get insurance, you may have to wait up to three months to be able to use it.  Then there is the painful fact that many of these dental insurance plans require you to pay for the procedure up front and be reimbursed later on down the road.

This combination of limited coverage, waiting periods, and red tape has caused many people to begin looking at dental discount plans.  Dental discount plans work very much like buying a Sam’s Club card.  You pay an annual fee (usually between $150 and $300) and then you get a reduced fee on all work you have done from any participating dentists.  These plans go into effect immediately and provide either a discounted rate or a percentage off of the work you want done.  Either way, you pay the full discounted rate at the doctor’s office at the time of treatment.

Which path is best for you really differs from person-to-person and your annual dental needs.  Even the cost of an employer covered dental insurance as a part of your employee compensation package should be compared and reviewed to insure additional coverage is not needed.

Dental insurance plans usually come with a monthly fee and cover 100% of preventative procedures such as check-ups, x-rays and cleanings.  They then usually provide a tiered system of costs for more involved work you want done.  Often, your total benefit can be roughly equal to your annual costs, so take the time to compare plans.

Dental discount Plans do not have deductibles or annual spending caps.  They are normally paid as an annual fee with coverage lasting for 12 months starting right away.  Dental discount plans normal costs are about half of what comparable dental insurance plans annual costs would be, but they offer only a discount on services not any form of coverage for needed procedures.

Often, the choice comes down to a persons need and preference.  If your personal yearly dental plan only calls for a few visits consisting of a check-up and cleaning, dental insurance may be the best bet for you as the annual cost of a discount plan might be more than the total savings offered for the minor work being done.  Not every needed procedure is covered by dental insurance however, while dental discounts are usually available for all of your oral care needs.  If you know that you have more involved procedures coming up, or if you have a family with active children, a dental discount card may be the way to go.  Other concerns, such as employment based coverage, insuring you are purchasing through someone with great customer service, and your favorite dentist is included are important considerations. Dental plans and Dental Discount plans found at www.mygenerationbenefits.com cover over 260,000 providers in all 50 states. The odds are high your current dentist is already a provider in a dental discount or insurance plan found at www.mygenerationbenefits.com

Everyone loves a nice smile and taking care of your dental health is a critical part of your overall health.  Take the time to look into your options to find the plan that is best for you.  If you need help checking your options, give Capital Benefits a call at 888-327-8880 or got www.mygenerationbenefits.com to get started.

 

7 Tips to Get Kids to Brush Their Teeth

Try out a few of these tactics to help your child get on a daily routine and the right track for great oral health.

1.) Set a good example!
Lead by example. Show your kids your oral health routine. Let them watch, hand them a toothbrush or if age appropriate some dental floss. Make it a positive experience that is a part of your daily routine.

2) Practice! Practice! Practice!
What’s a little baby doll brushing or practicing on a quick brush on you going to hurt? Nothing! In fact the more familiar the activity becomes for the child the more comfortable and easier to keep up those good oral hygiene habits!

3) Rewards. They work. Use them.
There is something that will entice your little one to brush those chompers. Is it a sticker chart? Maybe it’s a new toothbrush or a special tooth paste? There are several brands of tooth brushes that look and feel like toys, perfect rewards for good brushing.

4) Add some Technology!
What brings kids to the sink? Tunes and apps. That’s right, go to your favorite app store and check out the various apps you can download to provide your oral diva some tunes to jam to. Perfectly timed so they know when it’s been long enough, and they can stop.

5) Let Them Do It!
You know the struggle. Let them take the cap of the tooth paste, pour the fluoride into a cup, floss the front teeth… Whatever the task, let them participate as soon as the interest and ability is there.

6) Cater to the Little Things
If you still feel the resistance maybe it’s the toothpaste? No really. Try a new flavor, try a no flavor. Remember the pallets of the young are sensitive and mint and heavy cinnamon can be over bearing for their taste buds. Start mild. Maybe it’s a new step stool to reach and see at a higher height. Try to see the experience from the smaller perspective.

7) Play Games
Try using your child’s imagination to your advantage. Tell them they are space heroes and their mouth has been invaded by a zillion sugar aliens they need to brush out- or maybe they are a Princess and they need to brush the glitter off their teeth. Whatever the game, try to remember what it was like to be a young child and how to enhance the experience for them. 

Don’t forget The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child go to the dentist by age 1 or within six months after the first tooth erupts. Primary teeth typically begin growing in around 6 months of age. Find great dental plans for any age here.

Improving Your Memory With This Superfood Spice

Years ago, health care giant Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) sold Band-Aid bandages containing the spice turmeric.Turmeric bandages might seem odd, but the spice has a long history of medicinal use in India. JNJ sold them to the Indian market, where many creams and salves included the spice. The company stopped selling these bandages about a decade ago.

But more and more research is pointing to the health benefits of turmeric.Turmeric is a spice derived from a root similar to ginger. It appears in food from many cultures, especially curry.

Turmeric gets its healing reputation from one chemical, curcumin. Curcumin has powerful anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial properties.

It turns out, a brand-new study linked turmeric with improved memory. That follows on other research into how it may fight cancer. So we wanted to take a closer look today…

Turmeric preserves memory. A new study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry shows how turmeric – specifically the curcumin – improves memory.

Researchers split participants into two groups: One group received a pill with curcumin. The other group got a placebo. They continued taking their pills every day for 18 months. Researchers ran brain scans of the participants’ brains at the beginning and end. In addition, participants took memory tests every six months. Those who took the curcumin supplements had a 28% improvement on the memory tests than those on placebo. And their brain scans showed fewer markers of the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers believe this boost comes from the strong inflammation-fighting properties of curcumin. This follows other research looking at how curcumin interacts with the body. It appears to interfere with specific molecules that control the inflammation process.

Turmeric and cancer. Turmeric also contains powerful antioxidants. Several studies have shown that these antioxidants help detox our bodies. They also protect our DNA directly.And it can boost traditional chemotherapy treatments. One small study focused on folks with pancreatic cancer. The patients who took curcumin saw improvements with their regular medications. The chemotherapy worked better with the spice.

Pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest cancers, is especially resistant to chemotherapy. But researchers found a specific pathway in some pancreatic cancers that keeps the cells resistant to drugs. It turns out that curcumin directly interferes with that pathway. The spice effectively shuts off the cancer cells’ resistance.

How to Increase Your Turmeric Intake

Now that we know the benefits of curcumin in turmeric, what’s the best way to take it?

Many of these tests use concentrated amounts of curcumin in their studies. However, one of the problems with supplements is bioavailability.

Bioavailability refers to how much of a chemical your body absorbs. For every pill you take, you only get a percentage of the main ingredient that’s “available” for use in your body.

Research has found two natural ways to increase the amount of curcumin we can absorb. The first is to combine it with piperine. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the chemical that gives black pepper its kick. Piperine prevents your body from breaking down curcumin as waste. In fact, one study from India showed that taking curcumin with a quarter teaspoon of black pepper increased levels of curcumin in the blood by 2,000%.

The second is to combine it with oils. The structure of curcumin makes it attracted to lipids, meaning fats like oils.

Another point to remember – curcumin isn’t the only active ingredient. A group from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas found this out in its study. They looked at curcumin alone and turmeric with different types of cancer cells. Turmeric killed far more cancer cells in each of the seven types tested. That included cells of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and multiple myeloma.

It turns out, studies done on turmeric with the curcumin removed still had positive results. The spice still packed plenty of antioxidants. So if you want to benefit from all of turmeric’s power, we suggest adding it to your diet as a whole food.

You don’t just have to stick to curry, though. You can use it as a spice on salads, in soups, and on rice.

 

 

 

What We’re Reading…

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth BulletinResearch Team February 1, 2018

Snack habits for kids is risky business for dental health

Tooth brushing only partly protects against the effects of sugary snacks on children’s teeth, research suggests.

A study of almost 4,000 pre-school children showed snacking habits were most strongly associated with decay.

Researchers found children who snacked all day – compared with just eating meals – were far more likely to have dental decay.

The study shows that relying on tooth brushing alone to ward off dental decay in children under five is not enough.

The study also said parental socioeconomic factors, such as the mother’s education level, explained more of the difference in children’s dental decay than diet or oral hygiene.

The researchers said that even though primary teeth were temporary, “good oral hygiene habits are set in childhood, and this relates both to diet and tooth brushing”.

Dental decay

Social scientists from the University’s of Edinburgh and Glasgow used statistical models and survey data to predict dental decay by the age of five.

They used data collected on diet and oral hygiene from repeated observation of children from ages two to five.

Snacking was the factor most strongly associated with decay, with children who snacked all day without eating meals having twice the chance of decay compared with those who did not snack at all.

There was an incremental association between lower frequencies of tooth brushing at the age of two and higher chances of dental decay at five.

Children who brushed less than once per day or not at all at the age of two had twice the chance of having dental decay at five compared with children who brushed their teeth twice per day or more often.

The study is published in the Journal of Public Health.

‘Ongoing challenge’

Lead researcher Dr Valeria Skafida, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of social and political science, said restricting sugar intake was desirable both for broader nutritional reasons and for children’s dental health.

Dr Skafida said: “Even with targeted policies that specifically aim to reduce inequalities in children’s dental decay it remains an ongoing challenge to reduce social patterning in dental health outcomes.”

Study co-author, Dr Stephanie Chambers, of the social and public health sciences unit at University of Glasgow, said: “Among children eating sweets or chocolate once a day or more, tooth brushing more often – once or twice a day or more – reduced the likelihood of decay compared with less frequent brushing.”

The researchers used data from the Growing Up in Scotland study – a social survey which follows the lives of children from infancy through to their teens.

The research was supported by The British Academy, the Medical Research Council and the chief scientist office of the Scottish government Health Directorates.

Water fluoridation is affecting my family how?

ANOTHER study confirms the detrimental effects of water fluoridation on the IQs of children Tuesday, January 09, 2018 by: Zoey Sky (Natural News) Another study has added to the growing body of evidence that links the fluoride found in water with lowered intelligence quotients (IQ) in children. A study, which was published last year, confirmed […]

Is dental insurance tax deductible?

Read more: Is dental insurance tax deductible? | Investopedia https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/112415/dental-insurance-tax-deductible.asp#ixzz52UfkKq00

A: Dental insurance premiums may be tax deductible. To be deductible as a qualifying medical expense, the dental insurance must be for procedures to prevent or alleviate dental disease, including dental hygiene and preventive exams and treatments. Dental insurance that is for purely cosmetic purposes, such as teeth whitening or cosmetic implants, would not be deductible.

Where Are Dental Insurance Premiums Deductible?

For most taxpayers, the cost of medical and dental insurance premiums paid during the tax year are deductible on form 1040 Schedule A as a medical and dental expense. Only the total of all qualifying medical and dental expenses, including insurance premiums, that when combined exceed 10% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI), will actually be included in the total of all itemized deductions.

For example, if a couple has an AGI of $100,000 and a total of $8,000 of qualifying medical and dental expenses, including dental insurance premiums paid, then none of these expenses would be included as an itemized deduction. Ten percent of the AGI would be $10,000, which is greater than the couple’s total medical and dental expenses.

For a self-employed individual, the cost of dental insurance may be deducted on Form 1040, line 29, without having to itemize deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A with the 10% of AGI limitation described above.

Other Limitations

Dental insurance premiums paid with funds from a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) are not deductible, as these funds are pretax and the IRS does not allow a double tax benefit.

Top Treats & Foods That Damage Teeth During The Holidays

 

https://happytoothnc.com/category/oral-health/

We all want healthy teeth and healthy gums. But the lure of sweet treats, delicious drinks, and decadent desserts during the holiday season can overwhelm our otherwise sensible choices. Unfortunately, holiday foods that damage teeth are all-too-common this time of year.

Time to switch things up and try a new tradition: Holiday treats that can

strengthen your teeth and your holiday smile.

Avoiding Holiday Foods That Damage Teeth

Even if you’re diligent about brushing and flossing, many foods will make caring for your teeth an uphill battle, or might even damage your teeth outright. In order to help you protect your teeth this holiday season, we’ve put together a list of the holiday treats that damage your teeth the most:

Eggnog. Eggnog is full of sugar, which is always bad for your teeth. But since this drink often has alcohol in it, it can dry out your mouth and prohibits the production of saliva. That means the sugar residue stays in your mouth for longer and does more damage.

Candy Canes. These holiday staples are also loaded with sugar, but what makes them especially bad for your teeth is that they take a long time to finish. Unlike a cookie that you may eat in a minute, candy canes bathe your mouth in sticky sugar for minutes on end.

Holiday Sugar Cookies. That said, cookies can still be an issue. Especially the kind of sugar cookie common around the holiday. C’mon… it has “sugar” in the name! Eating too many of these will only accelerate tooth decay.

Potato Latkes. The pancakes themselves are not the problem, it’s what’s on the side. A common tradition is to dip potato latkes into table sugar, which turns a traditional holiday treat into something that’s damaging your teeth. When possible, eat them with applesauce instead.

Caramel Popcorn. Sugar is once again the culprit in this holiday snack. But it doesn’t help that caramel popcorn is so addictive. It’s easy to munch on it absentmindedly for minutes on end which just exposes more sugar to your teeth for longer.

Of course, this list might be longer if you have braces, Invisalign, or other orthodontics. (Read: “Holiday Eating With Invisalign: Should Candy Canes Be On the Menu?” and “Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid with Braces.“)

Holiday Treats For Healthy, Happy Teeth

It wouldn’t be much fun to spend the entire holiday season avoiding treats, especially when everyone around you is enjoying them so much. Luckily, you can be merry and be merciful on your teeth at the same time.

 

Here are some seasonal treats that you can indulge in without feeling guilty:

Peppermint Ho! Peppermint flavors are a staple of the season. Instead of eating candy canes, try peppermint tea (or make your own peppermint tea) and sweeten with low or sugar-free syrup. You can also try these homemade, sugar-free peppermint patties, of this terrific (and easy) dairy and sugar-free peppermint fudge.

Gingerbread. The bold flavor of ginger means that gingerbread tends to have less sugar than other types of cookies and cakes. So try gingerbread cookies over sugar cookies, or try baking actual gingerbread yourself- that way you can control how much sugar goes into it!

Cheese. Love cheese already? A study published in the American Academy of General Dentistry found that eating cheese raises the pH in the subjects’ mouths, lowering the risk of tooth decay. Cheese also contains calcium and protein, both found in foods that strengthen teeth. So go ahead, break out those holiday cheese balls. (We love this Christmas Tree shaped one you can make yourself.) If entertaining, it’s worth learning how to set up a simple cheese platter.

Almonds. Almonds are one of the best-kept secrets of the snack world. They are a good source of calcium and protein (which, again, helps to strengthen teeth) but are also low in sugar. While we don’t usually associate almonds with the holidays, winter has always been a season for roasted nuts. Try these spicy roasted almonds, or these rosemary roasted almonds, to get that nostalgic feel without loading your nuts with sugar. And, if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can make these no-bake almond cranberry Christmas cookies. They’re vegan, low in artificial sugars, and totally tasty.

Keep Your Teeth Happy This Holiday Season

One more thing to consider – during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to let our guard down and “skip” our usual teeth cleaning habits. Bad idea: This is precisely the time of the year when those habits are most needed!