Prepare for Mistletoe: Keep Your Breath Fresh

The holidays bring culinary delights, ranging from sparking cocktails to potato latkes to Yule logs. Many bemoan the effects of extra calories when it comes to pants sizes, but few consider what all that celebrating does to the mouth.

Every time we eat sugary foods, we feed the destructive bacteria that live in our mouths. As the bacteria chow down, they release an acid. The acid wears down tooth enamel, leading to cavities and eventually to gum disease. As gum disease is the number-one cause of halitosis, or bad breath, indulging in too many hearty nogs and sugar cookies could leave you standing alone under the mistletoe.

The holidays might also mean more red wine and post-dinner coffees, which can eventually lead to stained teeth.

Americans feeling the holiday spirit don’t need to give up sugarplums — they simply need to be a little more diligent about tooth care. Here are some tips:

•    Stay away from the buffet. Continuous snacking means that your teeth are constantly exposed to sugar and the ensuing bacterial acid bath. Stick to meals. If you’re at the sort of party where grazing is encouraged, fix yourself a plate instead of standing by the chips and dip.

•    Avoid sticky foods. Foods that stick to the teeth are more likely to cause problems than foods that are easily washed away. Even healthy choices, like dried fruit, can feed bacteria. Likewise, sucking on hard candies means that sugars stay in your mouth for a longer amount of time. If you want something sweet, don’t go for gummy bears or candy canes — try a mug of hot cocoa.

•    Drink water. No matter what you eat or drink, follow it with a glass of water. The water will help rinse sugar from your mouth.

•    Try oral care probiotics. Oral care probiotics, like EvoraPlus, may help make up the difference. Probiotics, or good bacteria, adhere to tooth and gum surfaces, where they leave less room for harmful bacteria to attach and grow. With less harmful bacteria in the mouth, we are better able to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

•    Create a travel kit. Pack a toothbrush and toothpaste, and brush your teeth after you eat. You’ll keep your teeth healthier — and feel less inclined to nab a second helping of pie.

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