The holidays are known for mixing families, festive sweaters, and classic cocktails together to spread some cheer. Perhaps your calendar is already packed until January with family get-togethers, office parties, and evenings out with close friends. As it’s likely alcohol will be present at most of these social gatherings, be sure to limit your alcohol consumption to ensure your smile is both shiny and bright well into the new year!
Why Do Holiday Cocktails Damage Teeth?
If you already practice good oral health, then you know sugar is your teeth and gum’s natural nemeses. Sugar feeds bacteria and produces acid that eats away at your teeth’s enamel, causing tooth decay. To prevent this from happening, our saliva helps neutralize the process by rinsing our mouths and removing plaque buildup. Alcohol, however, dehydrates your mouth, reducing your salvia production and making it easier for bacteria and acid to erode teeth and irritate your gums—which means sugar combined with alcohol can only spell trouble for your dental health this season.
The good news is there are ways to improve your favorite holiday cocktails that prevent them from harming your smile.
Tips for Substituting Ingredients in Your Favorite Holiday Cocktails and Beverages:
Switch Out the Sugar: Sugars from cream liquors, sodas, and juices are traditionally found in alcoholic beverages, especially during the holidays. Try to limit these mixers or switch them out for better alternatives. For example, instead of using soda, try sparkling water. If your cocktail recipe calls for juice, use real fruit (like strawberries) instead and blend it with ice to help dilute the sugar and still give your beverage its sweet, natural taste.
Skip the Eggnog: Although a holiday classic, eggnog should definitely be on Santa’s naughty list. Packed with sugar, dairy, and brandy, eggnog is a recipe for bad dental health. If you must indulge in this treat, be sure to do it sparingly and brush your teeth afterward.
Stay Away from Darker Spirits: Whiskey and rum can be rough on your enamel and can even stain your teeth. If you’re planning to use a spirit in a cocktail, use clearer spirits with low acidity like gin.
Stick to Drinks with Low Acidity: As mentioned above, you want to choose beverages with lower acidity to reduce the onset of tooth decay. If you prefer beer over cocktails, try low carb alternatives that are light in color and higher in water content.
In addition to substituting certain ingredients, remember to drink water in-between cocktails to help remove plaque. You’ll also want to practice brushing and flossing every night to prevent buildup and the spread of bacteria. It’s also recommended that you get your teeth cleaned regularly (especially before the holidays), so your teeth are smoother, making it difficult for stains to set in.