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Holiday sweets and candy play a big part of many festive celebrations, but dentists have a few treats they warn against. “Everything in moderation” is a good rule to live by, and there is nothing wrong with allowing the kids to enjoy the holiday goodies from school, parties, and your neighborhood cookie swap. However, make sure they are brushing and flossing correctly at least twice per day. Brushing an additional time after consuming sweet treats is also good idea.

Sugar fuels bacteria in the mouth, which can become plaque if it clings on teeth for too long. Once plaque develops, it is quite difficult to remove and can lead to tooth decay. Keep young teeth in mind as you are planning for your upcoming festivities.

Fun to eat, but unpopular with dentists

These holiday goodies are not a dentist’s favorite:

Caramels and other sticky sweets

Treats like candied apples and caramel corn are popular indulgences for the holidays. Dentists do not like sticky sugars, however, because the sugar remains on teeth for a long time. As sugar sits on teeth, bacteria have more opportunity to break down protective tooth enamel. Fruits are sweet on their own, so we recommend skipping the caramel or candy coating.

Candy canes and other hard candy

Candy canes, holiday ribbon candy, and similar can damage teeth in two ways. First, because these are so hard, children can crack a tooth if they bite down with too much force. In addition, hard holiday candy is usually kept in the mouth for a longer period. The sugar melts in the mouth and coats the teeth. Encourage the kids to brush well when they eat those hard candies at Grandma’s house or the candy canes from Santa.

Enjoy your holiday sweets with meals

While tasty goodies are fine in moderation, it does help to eat sugary foods with meals or shortly after mealtime, according to dentists and the American Dental Association. Saliva production increases during meals and rinses away food particles. It also combats acid-producing bacteria that can lead to cavities. Water has the same benefits for teeth, so increase the family’s water consumption when everyone indulges in sugary foods.

Americans spend 14% of their holiday budgets on food and candy. While it can be enjoyable to celebrate with edible goodies, dentists remind us to be watchful over quantity. And most importantly, to make sure everyone in the family is brushing and flossing well, and often.

We wish all of our Raleigh friends, neighbors, and patients a very happy holiday season! If it is time for your child to visit a pediatric dentist, give us a call at (919) 782-9560. We look forward to seeing you.