The cooler air is a reminder that fall is officially on our doorstep. This season is filled with occasions that encourage you to splurge and eat foods that you know are indulgent, and might generally be successful at ignoring. For instance, Halloween buckets filled with taffy, hard candies and oozing caramel apples can do a number on your enamel and gums. However, to keep your teeth healthy, do you have to give up every festive treat? Below are the top five worst offenders of dental health this season, and options for alternatives to enjoy their place.
And here’s the best part: these alternatives can really help to satisfy these cravings so you can be healthy without missing out!
Hard candies are not normally at the top of people’s list of favorite sweets, but they can be hard to resist when you’re presented with buckets full of them. Filling the jars in offices and waiting rooms, too, it is hard to avoid a Jolly Rancher or sucker. However, these candies are not just bad for teeth when you bite into them (which can risk chipping a tooth or filling), but the real harm is caused by the sugar in such a sticky form. Prolonged sucking on the surgery treat actually gives extra time for the sugars to penetrate your teeth and sink into your gum lines. If you are looking for something that will stick with you, try sugar-free gum. Many brands are approved by the American Dental Association, and chewing will actually improve your oral health!
Cool mornings are meant for coffee and a good book on your back patio. Unfortunately, your daily (or more) cup of joe might be staining your teeth and causing irreversible damage. In addition to stains, many people start their day with a sugary version of the classic morning coffee. The sugar from sweetened mochas and the rest will stay lodged in your teeth all day, causing plaque buildup, which leads to cavities. If you must start your day with coffee, try drinking it black, or just with milk. If you are concerned with teeth staining, try using a straw. In addition, there are various forms of tea (such as white tea) that can help wake you up without the negative effects on your mouth.
If you are trying to avoid sticky, sweet candy, turning to dried fruit seems like a logical alternative. Unfortunately, many dried fruits are incredibly sticky and filled with sugar, and can leave a residue on your teeth for hours after eating. In lieu of dried fruits, aim to consume raw fruits. They will be less sticky and have a higher nutritional value than their dried counterparts.
Caramel corn, kettle corn, and popcorn, oh my! This seemingly everyday food is one of the worst offenders. Not only are the rock-hard kernels a killer on your molars, the shells easily get stuck in between teeth and become embedded in the gum line. Without thoroughly brushing and flossing, these scraps of food can cause oral issue as severe as bone and tooth loss. If you are craving the salty crunch of popcorn, try substituting nuts. Nuts are a healthy alternative and less likely to lead to severe dental problems.
In order to protect your teeth, it is time to say sayonara to sodas—both regular and diet. The acids and sugars in these beverages attack your teeth and can cause real, lasting damage. Instead, create your own flavored water by squeezing fruit juices. If you miss the bubbles, try sparkling water instead of flat water. This alternative will protect your teeth and ensure you are well hydrated!