10 Foods and Drinks to Avoid During the Holidays

    The holidays are a time to give thanks. A time to exchange gifts. A time to share smiles. And if the holiday cheer doesn’t put a grin above your chin, the holiday feasts surely will.
    With huge helpings of ham, profuse potfuls of potatoes and a boatload of gravy boats, your mouth is sure to be busy. But be careful—some popular holiday foods can actually harm your teeth, making your smile not-so-merry-and-bright.

    Avoid cavities, stains and other dental-hygiene issues by avoiding these 10 foods and drinks this holiday season:

    Want to keep your teeth healthy? Corn on the cob won’t do the job. Biting into it can loosen or crack fillings and sealants. And if you have braces or permanent retainers, it can damage orthodontic wires and brackets. Plus, stray corn can end up wedged between teeth, causing a buildup of plaque. This contributes to tooth decay and gum disease. If you must eat it, scrape it off the cob first.

    Eating candy and keeping your teeth clean is a gingerbread house of cards. Hard candy dissolves slowly in your mouth, exposing your teeth to bacteria-forming sugars for several minutes at a time. Candies like Jolly Ranchers, suckers and candy canes can also chip your teeth and crack fillings and sealants. So tell grandpa to leave the Werther’s Originals in his pocket after family dinner.

    Chew on this: chewy candy is also bad for your teeth. Because of its stickiness, it clings to teeth, giving bacteria more time to grow. This bacteria feeds on the sugar and breaks it down into acids that eat away at tooth enamel. Sour candies are especially harmful, as they posses even more acidity that can erode enamel even more. So if you can, can the candy.

    Coffee wakes you up. It gives you energy. But it also stains your teeth. Tooth enamel is naturally porous, filled with microscopic pits and ridges. And when pigments from dark-colored drinks like coffee seep into these cracks, they can stain the teeth temporarily—or permanently if proper steps aren’t taken. Instead of drinking coffee in the morning, wake yourself up with a splash of cold water—to the face and down the hatch.

    In a glass of water, ice is nice. But if you chew on it, you better think twice. Chomping on ice puts a significant amount of pressure on your teeth. It wears the enamel, exposing the dentin underneath. This weakens teeth and can cause sensitivity. Also, biting ice can lead to cracks and chips in your teeth. And sharp ridges in the ice can puncture your gums, too. Moral of the story: don’t bite the ice.

    During a snack attack, a bag of chips is an easy target. But when you snack on chips, bacteria chips away at your teeth. Because they get gummy as you chew them, chips stay in your mouth longer and easily adhere to your teeth. This enables bacteria to munch away at your tooth enamel, increasing the risk of tooth decay. So if you want your tooth health to be all that and a bag of chips, avoid the bag of chips.

    Heading to the movies this holiday season? Instead of passing the popcorn during the flick, pass on it entirely. Like potato chips, popcorn becomes gummy as you chew it, causing it to stick to your teeth. This fosters bacterial growth and tooth erosion. And biting on unpopped kernels can crack your teeth. So ditch the popcorn. At the very least, you won’t have to deal with any annoying kernel flakes stuck to the back of your tongue.

    Pasta sauce is highly acidic, which can make your teeth temporarily more porous. The dark sauce then easily absorbs into your enamel, leading to stained teeth. Sure, pasta isn’t your typical holiday food. But if you find yourself craving spaghetti on Thanksgiving night, fight the craving and choose something a little more traditional… like turkey.

    Soda is so detrimental to your dental health. It’s loaded with cavity-causing sugar, as well as acids that decay teeth even further. Even diet and sugar-free sodas can sabotage your smile. If you absolutely cannot go without soda, sip it through a straw to limit its contact with your teeth. Otherwise, wash your holiday feast down with water instead.

    We know, we know. It’s a must-have during the holidays. But with its negative effects to your health and teeth, we’re dubbing it a must-haven’t. Not only is eggnog loaded with fat and sugar, it adheres to your teeth for extended periods of time. The sugar decays the enamel and diminishes your smile. So if you can this holiday season, be a good egg and ditch the nog.

    Just kidding. Gobble away.