With the holiday season arriving in a few months, you may already have plans to serve your family and guests special treats and side dishes made with cranberries. But some of your cranberry recipes might not be as healthy or good for your teeth as you might think. The desserts and side dishes may cause acid erosion.
Acid erosion can soften your tooth enamel until it is weak, thin and susceptible to decay. Once acid erosion does take effect, it may be difficult to stop. Erosion can eventually expose the delicate tissues inside your tooth crowns to bacteria. Your teeth may even become sensitive to cold and hot temperatures, as well as to sweet flavors.
Learn what you can do to prevent cranberries from harming your dental health.
How Can Cranberries Affect Your Tooth Enamel?
Cranberries are holiday favorites for many families. The berries’ tart taste and flavor give recipes just the right punch they need to wow your family and guests. Cranberries also contain vitamin C and other nutrients. But the juice of cranberries contains acid that can potentially remove or dissolve (erode) the minerals in your tooth enamel.
Your tooth enamel consists of various minerals, including calcium and phosphorus. The minerals strengthen your tooth crowns against chipping and cracking. But once you lose minerals in your enamel, your crowns become weak and easily injured. Your enamel can even change colors from a lack of mineral content.
Adding artificial sugar to your cranberry desserts and dishes increases your risk of acid erosion. Sugar is a viable food source for the bacteria in your mouth. Once bacteria consume the sugar, they produce an acid that erodes your enamel even further.
You don’t have to give up your cranberries this upcoming season. With the right precautions, you can prepare, make and serve your cranberry dishes with confidence.
How Can You Protect Your Tooth Enamel?
Instead of making your cranberry dishes with sugar or honey, use apples, mangos or pears in your recipes. Like sugar, honey can potentially promote tooth decay and acid erosion if it stays on your tooth enamel. Honey is also thick, which means it can easily stick to your enamel after you eat it.
Apples, mangos and pears are low in acid. These fruits also possess many essential nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin A, and folate. So don’t be afraid to add diced, sliced or even baked apples, mangos and pears to your cranberry recipes.
If you plan to serve cranberry-based beverages, make your drinks using low-fat or Greek plain yogurt. The probiotics in yogurt can help reduce the bacteria in your mouth and digestive system. Bacteria from your gut can enter your mouth if you experience heartburn or another acid-producing problem.
Also, sip on plain water during your holiday meals. Water can help neutralize the acids on your tooth crowns, as well as reduce the bacterial content inside your mouth. However, avoid sparkling water and other fizzy beverages. They may also contain acids and sweeteners.
If you do experience acid erosion after the holiday season, see a dentist for an exam. Acid erosion is treatable with fluoride treatments and dental cleanings. A dentist can also protect weakened tooth enamel with restorations, such as porcelain veneers or crowns. The restorations cover and protect your natural teeth crowns, keeping decay and bacteria at bay.
Finally, make every effort to visit your dentist for regular checkups. Even if you don’t have problems with acid erosion or tooth decay, it’s still important to have your teeth professionally cleaned and examined, particularly after the holidays.
You can obtain more information about acid erosion and how to prevent it this holiday season by contacting Cherry Hill Dentistry for a consultation.