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Posted on December 4, 2019
Growing up I knew for certain it was a bad idea to eat cookies right before bed. So how was Santa getting away with eating millions of cookies all through Christmas Eve? Why didn’t he have cavities in every tooth? Well, turns out Santa is magic. Unfortunately for the rest of us, we are mere mortals, subject to tooth decay and bad breath and all those terrible human problems.
Most of us know we should be careful with sweets, and we’ve talked about sugar and cavities before. So, obviously Santa should brush or at least rinse after loading up on cookies. But what about that milk?
While milk has micronutrients like calcium and vitamin D which are great for oral health, letting milk sit for too long in your mouth can cause severe cavities. This can be a huge problem for babies and very young children, who may be put to bed with a bottle to keep them full and calm overnight. This habit leads to a condition called “baby bottle rot,” which can destroy baby teeth. Even if your little one isn’t sipping from a bottle of juice or milk overnight, even having that one last cup of warm milk right before bed without brushing afterward can cause the same problem.
Similarly, any starchy food can lead to a greater tendency for decay. Rice, pasta, potatoes, and bread all break down into sugar. Sticky starches like rice lend themselves especially well to forming thick, sticky plaque on the teeth, which can harbor millions of bacteria.
Low fiber starches are especially bad for your teeth. High fiber carbs are typically less sticky, and the fiber can help disrupt biofilm on your teeth. But white bread, potato chips, white rice, and crackers are simple starches, which means bacteria’s favorite foods!
Also keep in mind that many processed foods contain hidden sugar and sweeteners where you may not expect. Low fat food are especially tricky in this regard: manufacturers frequently load them up on sweeteners to compensate for the lack of flavor from fat. Watch out for sugar in low fat and flavored yogurts, for example.
Similarly, pre-made pasta sauces from the jar and canned soups frequently contain a surprising amount of sugar. On top of which, that pasta sauce is usually headed for a nice, big serving of starchy pasta, and who doesn’t like a hunk of white bread with their soup?
This holiday season, Santa and the rest of us should enjoy our cookies and milk, maybe even a little hot cocoa on these cold nights. Don’t deprive yourself of your favorite starches, either! Just be aware that sugars may lurk where you least expect and make flossing and brushing your very last step before bed time. Get those milk and cookies ready and Happy Holidays, Orlando!
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