Once summer is over, many of us tend to forget about maintaining a health diet. As cold weather starts to set in, it's common to start reaching for heavier and sweeter foods. While an expanding waistline frequently stereotypes fall and winter months, your teeth are more susceptible to decay during these treat-filled seasons as well.
The sugary foods we eat during the holidays can often lead to cavities. If you’re heading into fall and winter with the early signs of a cavity, you need to get it filled in as soon as possible. If you’ve avoided a cavity thus far, take note of these five ways to avoid cavities this fall and winter.
Limit Sugary Treats
Winter weather can lead us to snacking on sugary foods around the house. While pie, chocolate, and cookies are often thought of as holiday staples, they are often too readily available and consumed. If you bring pie or cake to your family's Thanksgiving, try to avoid bringing it back home as leftovers—send it with someone else, or throw away the last piece or two. With longer nights spent inside during the fall and winter, you may be more tempted to eat late night snacks like cookies or ice cream, which cause unnecessary decay.
The debris that sugar leaves contributes to plaque development that form cavities. Avoid sugary foods by passing by the post-Halloween candy sales, and consuming a few less holiday cookies. If you receive Christmas cookies or candy, regift some of them to family, friends, or neighbors. Alternatively, keep them off of your countertops and easy to reach locations, so they're simply out of sight. When you do choose to indulge in a treat, be sure to brush your teeth afterwards.
Consume Vegetables Rich in Vitamins
During cold weather, the lack of farmer's markets and backyard gardens may result in eating fewer vegetables. The loss of vegetables in our diets means we’re missing out on important vitamins and nutrients.
One of the most important vitamins that disappear in the winter months is Vitamin D, which largely is sourced from the sun. To replace sunlight, you can either take Vitamin D supplements, or add fortified cereals and other foods rich in Vitamin D to your diet. This is an easy way to help your teeth and bone health.
Find Low-Sugar Alternatives in Hot Drinks
While completely avoiding hot beverages during cold weather isn't appealing, consider following some guidelines to minimize unnecessary tooth decay.
There are many healthy choices for hot drinks in the winter. Low-sugar hot chocolates and teas are great alternatives to sugar-loaded hot cocoas and eggnog—especially when it comes to maintaining a healthy smile. Additionally, certain herbal teas can replenish vitamins that you’re missing out on during winter months.
You should also use a straw when drinking hot drinks. The less time that your hot drink is touching your teeth, the less harm that it can do to your smile.
Drink More Water
Staying hydrated is a good way to get through a freezing winter unscathed. Drinking plenty of water is a good way to avoid getting sick, and offers benefits for your teeth as well.
A dry mouth isn’t good for your dental health. One of saliva’s main purposes is to prevent tooth decay. If you have a stuffy nose, breathing through your mouth can dry out available saliva, so it’s critical to drink water to maintain hydration.
Use a Different Toothpaste
Some new toothpastes can have a drying effect on your mouth. When the weather gets colder, this can start to become much more noticeable.
Toothpastes that contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) are known to cause dry mouth and dry lips. Dry mouth in the winter can be uncomfortable, and the lack of saliva in your mouth means that you have less power to fight against tooth decay. Look for toothpastes that don't contain SLS, at least for winter.
Holiday traditions and colder weather invite opportunities for our activities and cravings to surround us in rich, sugary foods. Follow the above tips to ensure you avoid cavities this fall and winter.