This year will no doubt bring gatherings with lots of delicious food. Unfortunately, all the overindulging can wreak havoc on our teeth and waistlines. This year, protect your dental health with these proactive tips for avoiding cavities.
Avoid Sticky Foods
While any type of food can fuel cavity-causing bacteria; sticky foods tend to be more problematic. Plaque really tends to proliferate when exposed to sticky sugars that cling to teeth. This holiday season, choose foods that won’t leave a sticky coating, especially if you won’t be able to brush for a while. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some sweet treats. For instance, instead of indulging in chocolate fudge for dessert; enjoy a piece of pound cake instead. Then, rinse your mouth with water to clear away food particles.
Rinse Your Teeth
Ideally, you should brush your teeth shortly after eating. If you can’t, you should at least rinse your mouth with clean water to flush food from in between teeth. You can also chew sugar-free gum in between meals to help increase saliva production and wash away food and bacteria. It’s also typically easier to resist sugary treats when you’ve had a piece of gum. These days, there is a wide diversity of sugar-free gum flavors on the market, including cinnamon roll, mint chocolate chip, and even apple pie à la mode.
Saliva has a pH normal range of 6.7. The saliva helps maintain that neutral or normal pH environment in the oral cavity. When you sip on a sugary coffee or soda throughout the day, the oral cavity is in a constant acidic state and a, therefore, higher risk of getting cavities. If you’re going to indulge in a sugary coffee or snack, drink something to allow minerals and other components in your saliva to help buffer the oral cavity.
Eat Healthier Foods
Packed with beneficial vitamins and minerals, healthy foods can help support dental health and increase saliva production. Opt for crunchy fruits and vegetables, such as celery, carrots, and apples. These can help reduce dry mouth, clean plaque from teeth and freshen your breath. With that said, no matter what you eat, you shouldn’t go too long without brushing and flossing, or bacteria will eventually start producing cavity-causing acids.
Avoid Unhealthy Foods
While it’s fine to eat sweet treats in moderation, you shouldn’t overdo it. Before you fill your plate with all sorts of goodies, familiarize yourself with the most problematic foods. According to the American Dental Association, some of the worst options include acidic foods and beverages, chips and even ice. Make sure you know what to avoid so you can plan your meals accordingly.
Get a Checkup
The best way to prevent cavities is to get a professional dental checkup. The holiday season is actually a great time to visit your dentist because it gives you an opportunity to take full advantage of your dental insurance coverage. If you haven’t used all your annual benefits for the year, consider scheduling an appointment before they reset on January 1. Most insurance providers will not roll over unused benefits into the New Year for most dental plans. Whether you schedule a checkup, cleaning or restorative treatment, use your benefits while you still have them.