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How some favorite holiday foods are bad for teeth

Sugary treats like candy canes can damage your teeth, but it doesn't end there

ATLANTA — There are holiday treats that can sour a smile, but people might be surprised to find that favorites like mashed potatoes can damage teeth.

Sugary treats like candy canes obviously aren’t great for teeth. Stuffing and mashed potatoes aren’t as big of a threat but eat too much and it could mean more than a diet.

Dr. Baharah Nia, an Atlanta-area dentist, said carbohydrates in potatoes and stuffing react with the bacteria that exists naturally inside of one's mouth.

“They produce really harmful acids that can create dissolution of the enamel,” Dr. Nia said. “It starts weakening the enamel, and as it becomes weaker and more prone to decay.”

Drowning potatoes in gravy is even worse. Gravy can be oily and stick to teeth. It’s usually made by adding flour or starch that creates the acids that erode tooth enamel.

It doesn't stop there. Cakes and pies have a lot of sugar, pecan pie brings added trouble.

“Pecan pie tends to be stickier,” Nia said. “Anything more sticky, the bacteria lingers longer, and there’s a higher chance of tooth decay.”

Wash down the slice of pie with a glass of egg nog and a smile is in trouble. Sugar is a factor once again, but any drink with alcohol can harm teeth.

“The alcohol dries your mouth and causes dry mouth,” Nia explained. “The combination of dry mouth and sugary-- it expedites the tooth decay.”

Dr. Nia isn’t suggesting eliminating favorite holiday foods. She suggests moderation along with a special focus on brushing and flossing, especially if there's a lot of tempting foods up for grabs.

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