Holiday Parties Can Be No Fun For Your Smile.

Posted on Nov 08, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

A particular joy of the holiday season is it give us the opportunity to gather with cohorts, friends and family. These gatherings are often in the form of a lavish meal, buffet, or cocktail party. By helping you to understand the challenges these get-togethers can place on your smile, we may be able to help you avoid the time and expense for treatment later on.

Here is where the risk begins: Acids in the mouth.

Oral acids are a naturally-occurring part of the digestive process. Every time you eat or drink, an acid surges into the mouth via saliva. This acid is very strong and helps to begin breaking down food as you chew.

These acid attacks, once they begin, last from 20 to 30 minutes. So, when you arrive and pop that first cheese straw in your mouth, the acid attack begins and continues throughout the evening as long as you’re consuming about every 20 minutes or so.

The risk factors go up with what you eat.

Holiday foods are often sweet or largely carbohydrate in content (such as pigs-in-blankets, chocolate covered pretzels, etc.). When potent oral acids mix with the sugar and carbs (which converts to a sugar) in these foods, it gives a super boost to oral bacteria growth.

Of course, while sticking by the veggies and dip is helpful, what you’re drinking may be just as bad as the pumpkin pie. Drinks such as punch, wine and cocktails are no friend to your smile, either.

Although many people feel wine is a healthy drink, it is highly acidic. When this acidity mixes with oral acids, your mouth is bombarded with a potent assault strong enough to soften tooth enamel.

Alcohol, in any form, is also very drying to oral tissues. This makes it harder for saliva to keep the mouth rinsed of what is coming in. This simply aids in the production of oral bacteria. When you are sipping a drink made with colas, liquors or syrupy mixers, you merely boost the potential for damage.

Are we recommending you nibble carrot sticks and sip sparkling water at your holiday outings? Of course not. However, we can make some recommendations to help you minimize the acidity in the mouth and keep oral bacteria from running rampant.

  • When nibbling, eat what you wish in a brief amount of time rather than pace out your eating for an extended period of time. Take a plate and put on it what you wish and then stop eating after. This will allow the acids to cease rather than continue.
  • Be conscious of what’s in your drink. Should you have a gin & tonic or a Manhattan? Choose a drink that is lighter in calories in the form of sugar.
  • When drinking, periodically take gulps of plain water and let it linger in the mouth for a couple of seconds before swallowing. This helps dilute oral acids and move them out of the mouth before they can damage tooth enamel.
  • Once home, be sure to brush and floss. By removing bacteria that has accumulated in the mouth, you’ll help to decrease the risk for gum disease and cavities.

Keep in mind that bad breath is the result of an over-accumulation of oral bacteria. When you keep bacteria in the mouth under control, you’ll enjoy fresher breath. In close conversations, this is important!

This holiday season, share your smile often and with confidence. Keep your smile healthy by understanding where your risks are and how to avoid problems from occurring in the first place.

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