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Ben Wilcox
Ben is the practice principal at Shore Dental, Sydney. He graduated with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery in 2004 and…

Eat, Drink, and Keep Your Teeth Healthy during the Holidays

December 23, 2014 by Ben Wilcox


The Holidays…Family, friends, love, peace on earth, good will…FOOD. Tables full of trays, full of…food. Wonderful, rich, sugary sweet, mouthwatering food. And we can't forget drinks – like cocktails, hot chocolate, fancy coffee drinks with whipped cream on top, eggnog…Mmmmm. What a feast. However, while your taste buds are jumping up and down with happiness, your teeth and gums may not be so thrilled.

Yes, the Holidays (just about any holiday has its associated goodies, not just Christmas or New Year's) can wreak havoc on your oral health. The Australian Dental Association says sugar should account for less than ten percent of the calories we take in, and five percent is better yet. With all of the Christmas cookies, pavlova, lollies, cocktails, and even the dreaded fruitcake, think of the calories!! And the sugar – it's sure to be way higher than that suggested ten percent! While most of us put this way at the back of our minds as we indulge, it will come back to bite us later, when we're dealing with tooth decay.

According to, what happens when you indulge in all that gooey, sweet holiday fare, is that your mouth's natural bacteria are feasting too, on the sugar. This produces acids, which then work on the enamel of your teeth, causing cavities. The damage can even go so far as to affect the gums, as well.

So, what do we do? Well, there's always abstinence, but that's no fun. Instead of going to the extreme of not enjoying any of those traditional holiday foods, you can manage your intake. Don't graze on sugary treats for hours on end. Additionally, on the Dental Health Week website , there are several suggestions for ways to protect your teeth and preserve your oral health. The most important thing is to remove the acids from your teeth as quickly as you can by brushing and flossing. Alternating with sips of water is also a good way to remove the decay-causing acids, in addition to all the other health-related advantages to drinking plenty of water. Another good method is to chew gum (sugarless, of course) – it stimulates saliva, which cleans the sugar from the teeth.

This is a good news, bad news situation. The good news: It's Christmas/Hanukkah/Holiday time – the food awaits you; the drinks are flowing.

The bad news: All that tasty food can rot your teeth.

More good news: You can head off the tooth decay by following a relatively simple routine for keeping your teeth free of sugars and the acids they produce.

So have fun, indulge a little, and feel good about yourself and your oral health on January 2!