Holiday Snacks That Increase the Risk of Tooth Decay

santa's gloved hand reaching for candy cane and cookies which can cause tooth decay

It’s tempting to indulge in plenty of delicious treats around the holiday season, but it’s important to be aware that the same foods and drinks that can be damaging to your waistline can also be damaging to your teeth! We’ll outline some holiday snacks that can put you at an increased risk for tooth decay to help you make healthier choices this holiday season!

What Causes Tooth Decay?

Before we dive into holiday snacks that you should try to steer clear of, it’s important to know why tooth decay occurs in the first place. Bacteria lives on the surface of your teeth, but when it isn’t properly cleared away by frequent brushing or flossing, it starts to feed on sugars left behind by the food you eat and multiplies at a rapid rate. Over time, the bacteria growth causes inflammation, pain, and cavities, which are tiny holes that penetrate even the strongest layers of your teeth, leaving the softer layers vulnerable to damage. Untreated cavities can lead to bad breath, excruciating pain, and eventually, tooth loss, which can weaken your jaw bones and make it harder to chew or talk.

Practicing good oral hygiene and cutting back on sugary, starchy, and acidic foods are excellent ways to prevent tooth decay.

Snacks to Avoid This Holiday Season


Popcorn isn’t always a sugary treat, but it contains kernels which can get stuck between your teeth and gums, causing discomfort and pain. If you wear braces, you should definitely avoid snacking on popcorn in order to prevent any complications. Biting down on unpopped kernels can cause chips or cracks in your teeth, so it’s best to throw those out!

Candy Canes

Candy canes are a classic holiday snack, but their high sugar content, coupled with the fact that they linger around your mouth for long periods of time, can be a recipe for disaster if you are not brushing your teeth frequently.

Chocolate, Cookies, & Pastries

It’s hard to avoid sweet treats around the holiday season—especially with so many holiday parties and gatherings filling up our calendars! But it’s always best to eat sugary, starchy snacks like chocolate, cookies, and pastries in moderation and make sure to clean your teeth thoroughly after snacking.

Hot Chocolate

What’s better than sipping hot chocolate on a cold winter day? Although some hot chocolate mixes aren’t as bad as others, the prepackaged powders with marshmallows are full of sugar and can be damaging to your teeth.

Alcoholic Beverages

Before you reach for another glass of spiked eggnog, remember that alcohol is highly acidic, which can be extremely damaging to your enamel and lead to tooth decay over time!

Solutions for Tooth Decay

If you are suffering from cavities or decay, it’s important to visit your dentist right away to get your oral health back on track. Dr. Nettey-Marbell and the staff here at Parkside Family Dental are here to help develop the perfect treatment plan for your unique needs. Whether a routine cleaning is all you need to get your smile sparkling again or you need to explore our root canal or restorative options, know that we’ll provide a solution for you.

Contact us for all of your oral health questions or to schedule an appointment!

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