How Does Eggnog Affect the Teeth?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  With it comes sweet treats and holiday parties and, for many, lots of eggnog.  We love to use it as coffee creamer, mix it with a cocktail, or just drink it straight.

As your dental professionals, you know we have to warn you about the potential effects of eggnog for your teeth.  The good news is that it isn’t the worst thing you can drink this time of year.  It does carry some risk, though.

What is Eggnog?

Eggnog is a traditional holiday drink that was most likely developed in medieval times in the United Kingdom.  Recipes for making it from scratch include milk, cream, sugar, and both egg yolks and egg whites.  Its popularity has led to mass production in a variety of flavors available in the refrigerated section of your grocery store during the holidays.

Is Eggnog Bad for Your Teeth?

Kind of.

Anything with that much sugar (more than twenty grams in a half-cup serving) carries the risk for causing cavities on the teeth.  The good news is that eggnog is not highly acidic.  By drinking plain eggnog, you are only risking cavities through the high sugar content, not through both sugar and acid.

Adding alcohol to eggnog does lower the pH a little, so you should exercise caution when you mix in the rum.  Drinking it in your coffee also carries a more acidic pH, but we are guessing you would drink that coffee anyway . . .

How to Enjoy Eggnog while Protecting Your Teeth

Being vigilant about your oral health does not mean that you can’t have any fun over the holidays.  It just means you might need to step it up a notch when it comes to prevention.

Don’t Skip the Dentist

Keeping up with your consistent professional teeth cleanings and check-ups is an essential part of maintaining a healthy mouth.  The preventive care that you receive from your dental hygienist helps protect your teeth against the acid attacks of dental plaque.  That means you can enjoy a little more eggnog.

Practice Great Oral Hygiene

You can’t rely on your six month cleanings alone.  You have to maintain great oral hygiene at home.  When you brush and floss on a daily basis, you are removing dental plaque that houses dangerous, cavity-causing bacteria.

If you remove these bacteria from your teeth, they cannot create cavities from the sugar in your eggnog!

Add Fluoride or Another Remineralizing Agent

Bacteria in dental plaque cause cavities by digesting sugar in your eggnog and producing acid.  This acid softens and weakens enamel (a process called demineralization), allowing the bacteria to penetrate and work their way deeper into the tooth.  We can fight this process by using remineralizing agents.  They can reverse the process of demineralization in its early stages.

Fluoride is the easiest remineralizing agent to find, as it is widely available in over-the-counter toothpastes and mouthwashes.  You can also receive professional fluoride treatments from your dentist for added protection.

For those who want to avoid fluoride, other remineralizing agents are available through various online vendors.  Look for products that contain nano-hydroxyapatite, amorphous calcium phosphate (ACP), and arginine.

More Questions about Holiday Drinks?

Call Timberlake Dental today at 940-382-1750 to schedule a visit with Dr. Chowning or one of our wonderful dental hygienists.  We can answer any question you have about your favorite holiday beverages and give you tips to keep your mouth healthy throughout the season.

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