So much of the holidays boils down to food. Whether you’re enjoying a delightful dark chocolate candy bar from your stocking or a comforting cup of cocoa, the options for sweets and holiday treats are practically endless. If you asked our tastebuds, the holiday meals and desserts are one of the best parts of the season—though our teeth would likely disagree. With all the sugars and starches that run amok throughout our holiday dishes, this can be incredibly trying on our teeth and gums.
Yet we still want to enjoy all that the season has to offer, which is why the dentists at Frederick Smiles Dental Care are here to offer you some healthy food alternatives that your teeth will appreciate. You should definitely be able to have your cookies and eat them too, and with our tips, your health will experience the benefits. Check out some healthy food alternatives to try this holiday season, and schedule
a visit with our dental clinic today! Dr. Olson, Dr. Oh, and Dr. Morris are here to help—book an appointment with our Top Rated Local® dentists.
We know, we know—that peppermint mocha or hot cocoa sounds far too enticing to simply pass by. But considering a medium peppermint mocha from Starbucks has 54 grams of sugar—more than double your daily recommended amount of sugar. And that’s simply from one drink, meaning anything else you consume that contains sugar just keeps adding up.
Studies have shown that tea is not only a great beverage alternative in comparison to the sugary ones, but it has several benefits for your teeth. Black tea in particular can attack some of the germs and bacteria that cause plaque buildup in your mouth.
Instead of reaching for that grande something-rather from Starbucks, try a nice peppermint tea for a warm and soothing drink. It will provide all the flavor and comfort of its warm beverage counterparts, without all the sugar. A lovely cup of tea will have all the same power that a cup of hot chocolate by the fire will have, without the insane overload of sugar (not to mention, sans the rush and subsequent crash). And while you’re steeping your favorite type of tea, feel free to grab an equally relevant and powerful alternative to added sugar…
The food that is about as natural a sweetener as they come, the syrupy substance that lasts for lifetimes, honey is an incredible alternative for sweetening things throughout the holidays. As a study published by the National Institute of Health stated, “Honey can be used as an alternative to traditional remedies for the prevention of dental caries and gingivitis following orthodontic treatment.” While this doesn’t mean you should start rubbing honey all over your teeth and gums, it can’t be denied that honey is a better and more natural sweetener than the added sugars found in many other holiday sweet treats.
Add it to that aforementioned cup of tea, or look for holiday recipes that can use honey as a substitute. You’ll often find that honey, or something like agave nectar, can be used for a more natural approach to sweetening those delightful baked goods.
When it comes to finding healthy foods that help both your teeth and your overall health, fruit is a bit tricky. We know the health benefits from fruits such as oranges and strawberries and kiwis and everything else are high in essential vitamins and minerals. However, these same fruits are often high in natural sugars and are fairly acidic, both of which are not exactly great for our teeth. You should absolutely continue to consume the fruit that you love and hold so near and dear, but keep in mind that there can be downsides for your teeth as a result.
Apples, on the other hand, are one of the better fruits that your teeth can tolerate. Part of this is, as Colgate® states, “The action of eating an apple produces saliva in your mouth, which rinses away bacteria and food particles. The fibrous texture of the fruit also stimulates the gums.” This is an excellent sweet treat that will fill you up, help your dental health, and taste delicious all at once. Try sprinkling some cinnamon on apple slices for a more festive treat, or bake apples with some cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey.
Yeah, that salad is definitely not going to taste like that homemade sugar cookie with all of that amazing frosting and sprinkles piled on top. However, when you’re with the family for the holidays, it should be noted that any type of salad with some nice leafy greens (such as kale or spinach) is an exceptional food to eat—and is OK to consume lots of it. The folic acid can help prevent or treat gum disease, and the high calcium content is perfect for strengthening your teeth’s enamel. Again, this isn’t exactly a dessert, but an excellent salad can be highly satisfying and be a great alternative to some of the other foods we think of being served at our holiday dinners. Eating the right stuff now might save you time and money and cosmetic dentistry procedures down the road (but if you do need teeth whitening or dental implants, we’ve got you covered).
When you get to that office holiday party or family get-together, there’s a solid chance of stumbling across a delectable-looking cheese tray. The cheddars and goudas and swisses are enough to have anyone salivating with how delicious they are. Now for some great news—cheese is actually good for your teeth. The proteins in cheese raise the pH levels in your mouth, which can create an inhospitable environment for plaque and the bacteria that causes tooth decay. However, it should be noticed that this is just cheese—those often corresponding crackers are full of starches that can be detrimental to your teeth, so try to stick to cheese alone. But in any case, the next time you see that cheese platter, you can say “Havarti Holidays” and dive right in. If anyone questions your motives, tell them you’re just brie-ing conscientious of your dental health.
Yogurt has similar effects as cheese does in terms of your oral health, but with one major disclaimer: added sugar. Most brands of yogurt are more sugar than anything else, which negates the positive health effects that come from its probiotics and calcium content. In fact, a single serving of Chobani® Fruit On The Bottom yogurt contains 15 grams of sugar, despite only having 120 calories. This goes to show that more often than not, sugar is the reason yogurt is enjoyed by so many.
In order to truly get these healthy benefits, make sure you’re going with natural and plain yogurt, the kind that has no added sugar. Once you’ve gotten this type of yogurt, you can feel free to sweeten it with some of the previously listed sweeteners that wreak far less havoc on your teeth. Honey, cinnamon, some apple slices or other fruits—all of these will make for a sweet treat with health benefits that are equally sweet.
Alright, we know that plain almonds are not exactly the kind of sweet alternative you’re looking for. But considering the basis of almonds is a very tooth-friendly one, this provides plenty of room to grow. Almonds have plenty of protein and calcium, which are two things that your teeth and gums simply love. Enjoy some almonds on their own, or in a trail mix with some dark chocolate and dried fruits, or spiced almonds for a savory treat. Even if some of these options have sugar, they’re still better than eating your weight’s worth of chocolate crinkles.
The thing about the holidays is that you should absolutely be able to indulge a little. You should definitely go for that piece of molten lava chocolate cake, or the raspberry torte, or that gingerbread cookie that your youngest child or cousin decorated just for you. However, bringing in some of these healthy alternatives can satisfy your sweet tooth while also setting your dental health up for success. Try some of these food alternatives throughout the winter months, and make sure your teeth and gums are in tip-top shape by booking a visit with Frederick Smiles Dental Care! Serving the Germantown and Frederick areas for years, we are your dentist of choice. Schedule your next dental appointment today!