By Melissa McCool, DDS
With the holidays comes an endless array of treats and sweets, and you know what? It’s okay to indulge! That is what goodies are for. As a dentist, I don’t think it is fair to tell patients they can never have something. The key is to be smart and not overindulge. If we eat treats every day, it will add up, and yes, there will be damage to our teeth and our overall health. But if we save those indulgences for special occasions, such as holidays, birthdays, family get-togethers and celebrations, we can have our cake and eat it, too!
It is important with our indulgences that we stay in control. If you are going to partake in sweets, it is better to have them at one time versus snacking on them throughout the day. For instance, if you have a bag of candy, it is better to eat that bag of candy in one sitting over a short period of time instead of eating only a couple of pieces over multiple hours throughout the day. The reason behind this is when we eat sugary foods, the pH in our mouth becomes more acidic. With a more acidic environment, our enamel can become weakened or decalcified and at risk for decay. So if you eat your bag of candy, the pH will drop, but luckily, your saliva will become a buffer to bring that pH back up. If you do this just once in a day, it will minimize damage. If we eat sugary foods multiple times a day, it will increase the time that our teeth will be exposed to an acidic environment and increase the likelihood of more long-term damage.
So it is just fine to have grandma’s special cookies, treats at an office party, or a special holiday dessert, but limit your treats to a small window of time and stay on top of a healthy oral hygiene routine throughout the chaos of the holidays. Brush for two minutes at least twice daily and floss at least once a day, and enjoy this special time of year with the ones you love!
Dr. Melissa McCool is a proud Reno mom and is a pediatric dentist at The Smile Shop.