As holiday parties, family get-togethers, and office festivities start to come together, so do the bad drinks for teeth. While holiday drinks, alcohol, and teeth don’t always mix well, certain beverages are worse on your mouth than others. If you’re planning to indulge in some of your favorite beverages, make sure they’re not on this do-not-drink list. Or if they are, definitely drink them in moderation (more advice on that at the end.)
Most of us are already aware of all of the hidden calories, carbs, and sweeteners in holiday drinks. That’s what makes them taste so good, right?! If you’re worried about gaining a few pounds during the holidays, remember that consuming sweets or drinks bad for teeth can do just as much damage to your tooth enamel as they do to your waistline.
Does that mean you can’t have them at all? No. But it does mean that you truly need to be aware of how often you’re consuming them. Plan for when you want to indulge and stick to it. And by indulge, one or two during a party is more than enough for a couple of weeks! Anything more than that (or every weekend) over the holiday months will definitely bring about some negative side effects. Even if it’s just a couple of pounds or dry mouth from alcoholic beverages.
The average serving of eggnog has somewhere around 4 3/4 teaspoons of sugar in it. One of the reasons why sugary drinks like eggnog are bad for teeth is because the sugars feed the bacteria in your mouth, allowing them to secrete more acids than normal. With eggnog, the pH level of your drink is already in an acidic range of 3-4. When you have sugar, acidic alcohol, and teeth all rolled into one scenario, you’re looking at more plaque buildup and a higher risk for tooth decay.
Rum isn’t as acidic as a lot of other liquors. But once you start putting things into it, the acid level starts to go down. Like rum and coke. Or in this case, hot buttered rum. Yes, there’s cinnamon, butter, and nutmeg. But there’s also a heaping dose of sugar or brown sugar to go along with it. Just a couple of ounces of rum is usually matched with anywhere from 1-3 teaspoons of sugar for one serving. Occasionally you’ll see it made with less sugar, especially if sweet butter is used.
Next to eggnog, a peppermint mocha is probably one of the most requested holiday drinks. And just like its predecessor—the pumpkin spice latte—peppermint mocha lattes can come in varying levels of “badness” for your teeth. Although a skinny latte is a healthier option than a regular latte, once you start adding in chocolate and peppermint syrups into the mix, you’ve basically given it extra acid power, which can, in turn, damage your tooth enamel.
Like a lot of other hot drinks, peppermint mochas tend to be sipped on for a long period. Every time you take a sip, a little of the liquid coats your top front teeth. Not only does that increase your chances of dental stain, but the sugars can seep in-between teeth and around your dental work, putting you at an extremely high risk of new tooth decay in those spaces.
White Russians are a creamy cocktail that’s loaded with heavy cream, vodka, and coffee liqueur. Talk about calories, stains, and acids all rolled into one!
Some people will make a “light” Russian by subbing the cream with almond milk or watering down their vodka. But even “light” holiday drinks can impact your mouth. With alcohol and teeth, we tend to see a drying action that causes sticky tissues, lack of moisture, bad breath, and an increased risk for tooth decay. Xerostomia (dry mouth) is common with a lot of over-the-counter drugs, but the same thing will happen whenever you drink an alcoholic beverage. White Russians are known for being especially heavy, posing a threat to both your waistband as well as your teeth.
Last year, hot cocoa bombs were all the rage! Whether you chose to buy them from a boutique vendor or make them yourself, it was almost more about the process of making the hot chocolate than it was actually drinking it. A lot of them even contained added “goodies” like marshmallows, caramel, and drizzly sugar all over the top of them.
No matter how you take your hot cocoa, it has a ton of sugar in it. And liquid sugars always tend to be worse on your teeth than other holiday sweets because they can seep into every nook and cranny. Chances are your kids will want to indulge in hot chocolate. If you do, make an event of it and keep it at a minimum. Drinking it every day will jump-start your family’s next trip to the dentist’s office!
Most of what you’ll hear about apple cider is related to apple cider vinegar, which has a pH level of about 3 (your mouth is about a 5.)
First of all, alcohol and teeth don’t go well together if we’re talking about dark, deep red wines. Heavy staining can ruin your recent bleaching sessions or even cause surface stains across your dental work. To keep your teeth brighter, longer, avoid any drinks that would stain a white T-shirt.
Mulled wine contains natural acids and sugars, both of which physically etch away or erode tooth enamel. If your teeth are already sensitive or have “watch” areas your dentist is trying to keep an eye on, drinking mulled wine could tip those spaces over into a category of active tooth decay. Plus, the alcohol and tannins involved will contribute to dry mouth.
Make sure you’re brushing and flossing every day, getting enough fluoride, and keeping your regular checkups. That way sugar and acids from holiday drinks won’t get into small areas that already need attention and make them even worse.
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