Submitted by Dr. Jeff Reynolds, DMD.
The array of holidays to celebrate in the coming months comes with a variety of sugary desserts. Whether you’re the baker or the taste-tester, you can choose which holiday treats are best for your teeth while still maintaining that dessert-induced smile.
The holidays are a time to celebrate with friends and family, but that doesn’t mean you have to put your oral health at risk. Making small swaps and smart choices when selecting holiday treats, can help start the new year off of the right foot and keep you from making an additional trip to the dentist’s office for cavities. This is particularly significant for children who are frequently gifted sweets at this time of year.
To keep you on track, here are some ideas of how to celebrate your holiday season with desserts that won’t derail your dental health.
- Cookies to Bake for Santa – Let’s face it – Santa isn’t the only one sampling cookies left out on Christmas Eve. Try cookies made with dates for natural sweetness that won’t give you a sugar rush. If chocolate is a must for you, opt for dark chocolate chips which often contain less added sugar without skipping the flavor. Finish off the cookies with a glass of water to help wash away food debris and neutralize the acid produced by oral bacteria.
- Melt-in-your-mouth Hanukkah Gelt – While classic Hanukkah chocolate coins come in milk and dark chocolate, reach for the dark. Dark chocolate contains tannins – an antioxidant which can inhibit bacterial growth. Simultaneously, antioxidant-rich cocoa butter, a main ingredient in dark chocolate, can help prevent plaque from sticking to your teeth. The darker the chocolate the better for your oral and overall health – when consumed in moderation.
- Kwanzaa Cornbread – This savory-sweet dessert option has only a small amount of sugar, but a little goes a long way. Although there is some sugar, it can be exchanged for a sugar substitute like xylitol, stevia, monk fruit, or erythritol that, unlike sugar, doesn’t promote bacteria to produce tooth-damaging acid. Xylitol even increases saliva flow and fights bacteria to help protect your teeth. If you go for xylitol when baking, a pro-tip is to add a little more milk as xylitol absorbs more moisture than regular refined white sugar.
- A New, New Year’s Eve Tradition – Looking for an extravagant New Year’s Eve dessert? This one is simpler than it looks and your teeth will thank you. Capitalize on unprocessed fruit’s natural sweetness and dress it up with dark chocolate fondu. You and your guests can enter 2022 with a festive holiday treat and a healthy smile.
To maintain the health of your smile all year round, practice good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing once a day, regularly visiting your dentist, and drinking plenty of water this holiday season.
For additional information about how to maintain good dental health this holiday season, visit www.deltadentalwa.com/blog.
Jeff Reynolds, DMD is a Delta Dental of Washington member dentist and serves as the Dental Care & Dental Director for Community Health Care (www.commhealth.org).