Snacking on sweets throughout the day or during an extended period of time (such as at a holiday party) is especially harmful, since damaging acids form in the mouth every time you eat a sugary snack and continue to affect the teeth for at least 20 minutes afterwards.
Snacking on sweets and sugary beverages throughout the day can increase the chance of tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing and flossing after snacks definitely reduces bacteria.
Simple steps for holiday oral careThe best way to avoid cavities while still enjoying your holiday indulgences is to practice good oral hygiene. Here are some tips to help:
- Eating sugary or carbohydrate-rich foods as part of a balanced meal is better than eating them alone. The body produces more saliva to help digest larger meals, which washes away more food and helps neutralize harmful acids before they can attack teeth.
- Foods that take a long time to chew can damage teeth. That's because sticky foods, including nutritious choices like raisins, dates and dried fruit, hold acid against teeth longer than do other foods. Try to limit your consumption of these foods.
- After consuming high-acid food (fruits) or drinks (wine), rinse with water before brushing your teeth to prevent tooth erosion from the acids.
- Keep a toothbrush and travel-size toothpaste handy (for example, in your pocket or purse or store these in the glove compartment of your car) so that you can brush right after eating at holiday parties. An added benefit is that you are less likely to eat after you brush your teeth, so you may end up eating less at parties.
- If you're unable to brush your teeth after eating, rinsing your mouth thoroughly with water or chewing sugar-free gum will help to wash away food particles, produce more saliva and neutralize acids in your mouth.