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Hazardous Holiday Foods

Hazardous Holiday Foods

A Chipped or Broken Tooth Can Put a Damper on Holiday Festivities

The holiday season is almost upon us!  Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are all happening soon.  Of course, with any holiday comes traditions passed down from generation to generation, such as costumes, family gatherings, presents, and of course, food!  While holiday foods are made with love and good cheer, some can actually be dangerous to your teeth and can end in an unexpected trip to the dentist.  Below are the top foods that have been the culprit of chipped and broken teeth during the holidays.

Halloween Foods

This fun filled holiday is a favorite for many people.  Kids and adults alike show off their creativity by dressing in their favorite costumes for trick-or-treating or just a night out with friends.  Unfortunately, with Halloween comes candy — and lots of it.  Not only are the sugar-packed sweets bad for your teeth, but the hard and sticky candies can do more than just cause cavities.

kids trick or treating
Hard Candies are full of sugar and are bad for teeth.

The tradition of going door to door in costume for candies and sweets date back to the late 1800s.  Unfortunately, many of the treats given out to children are hard candies and suckers.  These little sweets may not seem that bad, but a lot of sugar is stuffed into each (and we all know it’s hard to eat just ONE).  After eating these, the sugar sits on your teeth and eventually causes decay.  People of all ages also tend to chomp down on them instead of waiting until they dissolve in their mouths.  Anytime you bite into food this hard, it is doing damage to your teeth, and, sooner or later, one bite is going to end in a broken tooth.

Bobbing for Apples is not without risks to teeth.

Often played during Halloween, it is believed that apple bobbing has been around since the Romans conquered Britain.  The game is simple: fill a large basin with warm water and drop some apples in.  With your hands behind your back, you use your teeth only to catch an apple long enough to pull it out of the water.

Of course, this fun game can quickly turn painful if you bite into an apple wrong.  There have even been cases where the game got a little too rough and players started dunking each other’s heads as a nasty little surprise, ending in a tooth snapping against the basin wall.  Bobbing for apples is a fun holiday game, but might be one you want to avoid if you have sensitive or loose teeth or any large restorations in your mouth.

Caramel/Taffy are sticky.

These delicious snacks don’t seem like they could break your teeth as they are softer than hard candy.  However, we’ve seen many patients come in for a broken tooth due to eating a caramel.  The problem, though, is not whether it’s crunchy or not, but how sticky it is.  Teeth with restorations such as fillings or crowns are especially vulnerable, as the sticky substance is very good at pulling out dental work.

To ensure what treats you hand out this Halloween season are good for all trick-or-treaters, check out these healthy Halloween alternatives!

Thanksgiving Foods

Arts and crafts, football, giving thanks, and large, delicious meals are all considered traditions of this fall holiday.  Though most foods are soft, like stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauces, and green bean casserole, there are some we’d suggest eating with caution.

Beware of the Turkey Bones

It can be a nasty surprise when you’re eating your helping of turkey this Thanksgiving and you bite into a bone.  Most of the time they are small but can do just as much damage as biting into a large one.  Smaller bones are also more likely to accidentally stab into your gums or tongue or even be swallowed.  The best way to avoid biting into one?  Use a fork or dull knife to tear the turkey meat off of the bones.  Then, using your finger, inspect the meat closely for any smaller bones or bone shards before eating your turkey.

family at thanksgiving table
Peanut Brittle is like chewing ice.

Chewing peanut brittle is just as bad for your teeth is as chewing ice.   Not only is it basically just hardened sugar, but many recipes add nuts to the mixture, making the treat even more dangerous for your poor teeth.   It is one of the top foods that cause broken teeth due to how much stress the hard candy puts on each tooth as you chew it. Even healthy teeth free of dental work can fracture while eating peanut brittle.

To get it into bite sized pieces, you have to slam peanut brittle against the counter or hit it with the blunt edge of a knife.  It’s even been known that people use small mallets to break it apart!  Sounds like a recipe for a broken tooth to us!

Christmas Foods

Like Thanksgiving food, Christmas food tends to be soft and filling.  However, there are a few goodies out there that should be eaten with caution.

Candy Canes can chip.

These holiday treats became popular at Christmastime in the mid-1800s (but record of them has been traced back to the 1600s)!  They are typically peppermint flavored and white with a red spiral stripe, although many other flavors have appeared since its creation.  Just like the hard candy we mentioned above, biting into a candy cane is rough on your teeth, and can actually chip a couple.

Peppermint Bark may need softening.

Speaking of candy canes, another favorite Christmastime treat is a snack called peppermint bark.  It contains only four ingredients — including candy canes — and is simple to make, making this holiday food very popular.  Like peanut brittle, this yummy treat is hard and crunchy.  It can be snapped apart just using your hands, but again, even in bite-sized portions, peppermint bark is quick to chip a tooth.  To soften it, leave small pieces in your mouth and suck on them instead of chewing them right away.  Your saliva will soften the candy until it is softer and safer for your pearly whites.  Another way is to soak the pieces in coffee or lukewarm milk.  Not only will that soften your pieces, but will add a delicious new flavor to them as well!

Caution: Popcorn Kernels, especially “Old Maids” can chip your teeth.

Almost all of us have gotten the delicious gift of a big tin full of popcorn for the holiday season.  Some even come in more than one flavor!  This light snack tends to be eaten without a second thought to the possibility of an extremely hard unpopped kernel hiding somewhere in one of your next handfuls.  Popcorn is light and soft, so on the off chance you are unlucky enough to bite into one of those kernels, you are most likely doing so at full biting force.  Tooth injuries related to popcorn are one of the most common dental emergencies.  When eating this yummy food, make sure you inspect each handful before eating it, especially the caramel coated kind, which is popcorn covered in extra sugary goodness that hardens when cooled.

woman holding jaw
What To Do If You Do Break a Tooth

Whether your tooth broke or was chipped in one area, an appointment is necessary as soon as possible.  Either can lead to decay getting inside the break, causing more tooth structure to be lost in the end.  If you happen to break your tooth this holiday season — or at any time during the year! — schedule an appointment with us right away so we can diagnose needed treatment to restore your tooth and make it whole and strong once again.  Don’t let a chipped tooth ruin your holiday fun!


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