Everyone loves delicious holiday foods and sweets and treats. Sitting down to the table with family and friends for a great meal is a joy unmatched by anything else in life. Unfortunately, your mouth might not agree.
I’m Dr. James Stewart, and I want to tell you how to protect your teeth during the holiday season. First, it is important to know what you are trying to protect your teeth from. Our mouths contain hundreds of bacteria, some good and some harmful. Streptococcus mutans, also known as S. mutans, are a type of harmful bacteria that live and thrive inside the oral cavity. Pies, cakes, and cookies are often staples in the holiday meal. As we enjoy these yummy desserts, so do S. mutans and other bacteria, causing the sugars to stick to our teeth and eat away at tooth enamel — causing cavities. There is, however, good news.
Some foods common at the holiday dinner table have the power to help prevent tooth decay. Recent research has shown that compounds in cranberry disrupt enzymes that S. mutans and other bacteria use to build glucans. Without these enzymes, bacteria in plaque can’t stick to teeth and cause decay. It has been proven that the production of S. mutans decreased by up to 70% and cavity formation decreased by up to 45% when the cranberry compounds were present. Surprisingly, red wine also has an effect on cavity prevention. The abundant waste made from the red winemaking process, such as fermented seeds and grape skin, contain compounds that also fight bacteria. Like cranberry, these compounds inhibit the activity of the bacterial enzymes by as much as 85%.
Taking care of your teeth is a year-round job. Brush your teeth, avoid foods filled with sugars as much as possible, and don’t snack often. Your mouth will thank you 24/7.
Keeping up with regular cleanings and exams is also part of taking care of your teeth. To schedule your post-holiday dental cleaning, please contact my office. Happy holidays to you and your family from James Stewart, D.D.S.!