The holiday season is here, and with it come the tantalizing deliciousness of holiday desserts, cookies, candies, and other treats. As dental professionals, we certainly recommend consuming as few sugar-laden treats as possible, not just to preserve your teeth and gums but also out of concern for your overall health. Yet we understand that abstaining from all holiday treats is an unreasonable request. We often forget as we get older that cavities are not just for kids, and before you overindulge on refined sugars between now and the end of the year, it’s a good idea to review exactly what causes cavities and what you can do to lessen the damage to your teeth. Even if you do plan on limiting your consumption of sugary treats, it’s important that you don’t neglect your teeth, as other holiday foods can cause cavities as well.

It’s Plaque That Causes Tooth Decay

It may be hard to believe, but sugar itself doesn’t directly cause tooth decay. Cavities are caused by plaque, a nasty substance that coats the visible surface of your teeth. Plaque is created when bacteria in your mouth consume the carbohydrates leftover from not just sugar but healthier foods as well, including breads and fruits. After large meals, try to brush and floss your teeth as quickly as possible to help brush away the plaque and remove the bits of food from between your teeth and gums before they have the opportunity to do any damage. Also, be aware that consuming small amounts of sugary foods and beverages throughout the day, such as munching on holiday candies or cookies or sipping sugary drinks throughout the day, can cause more plaque buildup than consuming these foods quickly in one sitting.