Sensitive teeth can irritate, even more so during the festive holiday season. Overly sweet foods, and temperature differences (both hot and cold) may irritate your teeth, making eating difficult and even painful. If you do have tooth sensitivity, stay away from these treats and foods that can aggravate sensitive teeth.
- Sugary drinks – Sugary drinks are bad for the teeth in the first place, but even more so when they’re sensitive. Drinks like eggnog contain sugar and acids that can eat away at tooth enamel, causing cavities. Eventually, such damage requires fillings to remove the decay and fill the hole. Eggnog is especially problematic when it contains alcohol, which dries the mouth and encourages bacterial growth. If you do have eggnog, drink plenty of water afterward to wash away the sugar and to rehydrate yourself.
- Sticky sweets – Be careful around sweets like toffees and caramels. The sugar can cling to the teeth long after you have finished eating, and harm the enamel. Foods like caramel popcorn can get small particles trapped between teeth, which can cause complications if you fail to floss. If you rely solely on saliva to wash away sticky treats, it can take quite a long time before the sugar stuck to your teeth dissolves. Eat goodies like these in moderation, and drink plenty of water after eating.
- Hard candy – Hard candies, like candy canes and butterscotch drops, expose your mouth to large quantities of sugar over a long period of time before they dissolve completely. It’s also possible to crack your teeth if you chew on hard candy. Look for softer and less sticky candies as easier-to-eat alternatives, and, of course, rinse or drink water after consuming any little delights.
- Hot cocoa – Hot drinks are especially good at triggering sensitivity. However, drinks like hot cocoa can cause more damage to the mouth than just irritating the teeth. Severe burns can damage the gums, and indirectly hurt the teeth even further. Be careful with all your hot drinks; consider taking your hot cocoa, tea, and coffee at a lower temperature, or wait a few minutes before drinking to let it cool.
- Citrus – Although fruit juices are a great source of vitamin C, you might consider passing on citrus fruits and juices if you have sensitive teeth. Citrus contains plenty of acid that can weaken enamel, which can cause tooth pain. Avoid lemon juice and sour candies consumption during the holidays.
- Potato latkes – Hanukkah is another winter holiday that brings with it sugary specialties. Although made from potatoes (which aren’t bad for your teeth in and of themselves), some families dip their latkes in table sugar. Instead, consider dousing your latkes in unsweetened applesauce; it has far less sugar, and is easier on the teeth.
While it’s fine to enjoy the occasional treat during the holiday season, remember to balance them with other, more healthful choices. Enjoy some seasonal treats that are more tooth-friendly. We’ve listed a few below.
- Cheese – Cheese provides plenty of health benefits, including great calcium for teeth. Cheese has a low pH value, which can counteract acidic foods like citrus and wine — as well as reduce the risk of tooth decay. It’s antibacterial, which can give added protection for teeth. Cheese also contains protein, which the body needs to build and strengthen teeth. It might not be the same as using a toothbrush, but a bit of cheese can help teeth stay strong and healthy.
- Peppermint – Peppermint is a staple flavour of the holidays that can be added to many different types of food and drinks (as long as you are moderate with your sugar use). Try making peppermint tea, and sweeten it with sugar-free syrup or stevia to avoid irritating your teeth. There are other goodies you can add peppermint to, and soothe your cravings. For example, try adding peppermint extract to your hot cocoa to add a flavour twist. As an extra bonus, peppermint is good for digestion, and can help your body process all those extra goodies.
- Nuts – Nuts contain different nutrients that can help keep teeth healthy, like calcium, iron, and magnesium. They’re also fairly low in sugars and carbs, allowing you to indulge without too much difficulty. Nuts also stimulate salivary glands — saliva neutralizes acids and eliminates bacteria. Winter is a good season for roasted nuts, and bowls of hard-shelled treats. Be sure to use a nutcracker to open them and avoid chipping or cracking teeth.
- Gingerbread – Gingerbread can be a healthier alternative to other seasonal baked goods. It contains less sugar than many other cakes and cookies. Gingerbread is also lower in fat. Try baking gingerbread cookies or a loaf of gingerbread yourself. Making your own dessert lets you control exactly how much sugar goes into it, which is perfect if you’re watching your sugar intake.
- Dark chocolate – Regular milk chocolate contains plenty of sugar. Try dark chocolate instead for a healthy alternative. Dark chocolate not only has less sugar, but it also contains more antioxidants than milk chocolate. It’s argued that dark chocolate can help relieve stress, which might be useful during the holidays.
- Veggies – Veggies are a natural way of “cleaning” your teeth between brushing or professional teeth cleaning sessions. Focus on fibrous vegetables like celery and carrots; they are nature’s toothbrushes. Chewing these veggies helps remove plaque from teeth, keeping them fresh and clean until you can brush properly. Vegetables also contain plenty of vitamins and nutrients for your overall good health, giving you the energy you need to make it through the shopping, parties, and other events this December.
If you have sensitive teeth, it’s vital that you watch what you eat, especially during the holiday season. Some treats can irritate your teeth and cause pain and discomfort. Keep these tips in mind to safely enjoy food and beverages in moderation, without risking damage to your teeth.
If you do require a dental clinic in London, Ontario this winter, give Cosmo Dental Centre a call. We are open six days a week, and can make early morning and evening appointments to fit your busy schedule. We provide total dental care for the whole family, including implants, veneers, and teeth whitening. Contact us at (519) 659-2767 to make an appointment; we’re ready to help you.