Party Foods For the Best Teethy Christmas
The “silly season” is just around the corner… that means gifts, friends and parties.
Fruit mince pies. Gingerbread. A nice glass of eggnog – with or without the brandy. For many, these are essentials during the end-of-year holiday season.
If you’re concerned about your oral health during Christmas, though, you probably think twice about consuming these cheery treats. Battling feelings of guilt is guaranteed to dim your party spirit, so here’s some joyful tidings: there are party foods that don’t endanger your teeth!
So if dental health is one of your seasonal concerns, a little attention and research is all you need to keep yourself healthy this Christmas.
The 2 Dental Rules of Party Snacking
Spending the holidays avoiding party food would be pretty miserable. Happily, you don’t have to be miserable – if you keep to two rules:
1. Stay Away from Sticky Foods
‘Sticky’ foods are types of foods that cling to your teeth. This goes beyond sugary treats: bread, chips and biscuits all classify as ‘sticky’, too. Simple carbohydrates break down into sugars while they’re still in your mouth, making it easier for plaque to form. Their consistency makes it more likely some of the food will remain in your mouth after you’ve swallowed.
2. Stay Away from Sticky Drinks
It’s not just food you need to worry about. Drinks that are high in sugar are great for feeding the bacteria in your mouth – which means they’re bad for your teeth. Sugary drinks, particularly carbonated drinks, are also more likely to be acidic, attacking the enamel on your teeth directly.
3. Take Remedial Steps when You Break Rules 1 and 2
Wait – that’s three rules!
Part of coping with Christmas feasting is being realistic with yourself. At some point, you’re likely to give in and sample a sticky, tasty party snack. You can reduce the danger of tooth decay by being aware of those times, and doing things like drinking water to rinse harmful substances away.
Tooth-friendly Party Finger Food
There are plenty of summer party foods that are good for your teeth. When you’re at the buffet, seek out tooth-friendly food like carrot sticks, celery sticks and other vegetables.
If your the host of a party, consider some of these ideas for party finger food that’s good for your teeth and super tasty –
Dilly Cucumber Bites Recipe
Platters with fresh morsels laid out like little jewels are the joy of soirée’s everywhere. Skip the crackers and tempt party goers with these crunchy tasty hors d’oeuvres stacked on a cucumber slice.
Recipe for Smoked Salmon Cucumber Rolls
Another clever cucumber finger food idea is the cucumber roll. Just as the name suggests, roll some tasty ingredients inside a thinly sliced cucumber and you have another sensational appetizer right for BBQ or something more elegant.
Caprese Pops Recipe
These days when it comes to party food, everything is being “put on a stick”, from hotdogs to cake pops. So how about this take on the famous Italian Caprese salad? Deconstructed and reassembled on a stick – basil pesto, mozzarella and tomato.
Recipe for Bacon and Cream Cheese Appetizers
Parmesan Crisps Recipe
Anything like a chip goes down well as party finger food. So this super easy recipe for parmesan crisps is going to be your next favourite recipe for impressing guests when there’s nothing left in the pantry; or you have “keto-diet” visitors.
Recipe for Thai Prawn Salad Spoons
Any of your favourite meal recipes can be instantly converted into a party finger-food favourite with the addition of a spoon. One that we think really adds spice to a party is this Thai Prawn Salad appetizer – fresh, zesty and with a little bit of bite, plus they’re good for your teeth.
Mexican Beef Kebabs Recipe
Anything you put into a burger can be deconstructed and put on to a kebab stick! Paleo Leap have a tasty Mexican-style kebab recipe that will impress any burger lover. Experiment on your own with your favourite combinations, using meatballs, diced meats, chicken nuggets or fish balls.
Curry Popcorn Recipe
For those with a sense of adventure, when it comes to party food, this recipe for Curry Popcorn may be just what you’re looking for. Check out the Gewurzhaus website for different spice blend ideas for your own unique party popcorn.
Recipe for Salty Sichuan Peppercorn and Chilli Cashews
Make and store these tasty cashews to have on hand for whenever that party spirit turns a casual gathering into something with a lot more like a celebration. These nut have a fiery bite that makes it hard to stop at eating just one (handful that is!).
There’s always a classic cheese board if time is against you when preparing for a party.
The 12 Don’ts of Christmas Partying
It’s not always possible to control what’s put on the table at a party; so it helps to know the things you absolutely should avoid.
- Don’t go for processed food.
Think foods with lots of food colourings, preservatives and flavourings. Anything that doesn’t look homemade is more likely to contain higher amounts of hidden sugars than the chef or mum made versions. If you are taking a plate, then you know you’ll have something you can eat. If there’s no other option; enjoy in moderation, drink water to flush away residues and brush and floss as soon after as you get a chance.
- Don’t automatically opt for low-fat.
Foods that are lower in fat may seem healthier, but frequently what’s taken out in fat is replaced in sugar. Vegetarian and dietary restricted options can be very helpful if there aren’t any good low-fat/no-fat options on the party table.
- Don’t graze on sweets.
If you are going to eat them, eat them quickly. Your mouth has to fight off the bacteria promoted by sweet foods; so time is a factor. Keeping your mouth bathed in sugars as you slowly eat one sweet thing after another is just cruel to your teeth and Dental Hygienist. Drink water regularly between sweets and maybe take a break from the sugar.
- Don’t choose hard lollies.
Relishing the sugary warmth of a boiled sweet can bring back good childhood memories, but it’s an indulgence that puts your dental health in danger. Hard lollies, lollipops and boiled sweets are bad for your teeth simply because they’re in your mouth for so long. By turning your saliva into a sticky syrup your poor teeth haven’t got a chance! You guessed it… help your mouth and saliva by taking a break and drink some water.
- Don’t be fooled by dried fruit.
Some hosts provide dried fruit – apple, banana, mango or sultanas for a healthy party snack. While these foods can provide some essential vitamins and nutrients, they’re high in sugar. Dried fruit is also more likely to stick to your teeth than fresh fruit, so when you have the choice, select fresh as a better option for your oral and general health.
- Don’t assume chips are better.
Some of the most common snacks served at parties are potato chips. With so much awareness of the dangers of sugar, you might assume that a handful of potato crisps are better for your teeth than cookies and cake; but it’s not always the case. Remnants of chips hide in the crevices between teeth just like when you eat biscuits and cake. So make brushing and flossing after a party your number one thing to do.
- Don’t swig on diet soft drinks.
Diet soft drinks and sugar-free drinks may be lower in sugars, but they are still an acidic presence in your mouth. That means problems for your teeth. Our preferred choice is for you to drink lovely cool refreshing water, but it’s a party, so you could consider tea (iced or hot, without sugar). Otherwise drink using a straw so that you keep the acids away from your teeth as possible.
- Don’t refresh on too much juice.
Fruit is considered a healthy option for most people, but this doesn’t mean that fruit juice is just as healthy. While fruit juices contain vital nutrients, they are also high in sugars and are acidic. When it comes to down to a choice – it’s better for your teeth, to eat fruit rather than drink it as a juice.
- Don’t be a wine snob.
Swishing an exciting new wine around your mouth might be a good way to analyse its flavour and impress others, but it’s a terrible idea for your teeth. If you are drinking wine, do your best to keep it away from your teeth and drink water in between indulging in that cheeky Chardonnay or full-bodied Shiraz.
- Don’t mindlessly reach for a toothpick.
Although toothpicks can be useful for removing food at the edges of your teeth, they also present a risk. Stabbing your gum with a toothpick can open a wound that bacteria is able to infect. Consider having some handy disposable flossers with you if you’re the type that gets food stuck between their teeth.
- Don’t brush!
Well do brush your teeth; but at the right times. It may seem like strange advice, but brushing your teeth immediately after consuming sugary foods and wines can damage your teeth. The sugars weaken the enamel of your teeth, and brushing when they are weakened can cause unnecessary enamel erosion. Most dentists advise waiting half an hour to an hour after eating before brushing, to give your mouth the time it needs to re-adjust acidity levels.
- Don’t limit yourself.
It seems that restricting yourself to one treat snacking may be more harmful to your teeth than your waistline. When you’re trying to keep an eye on your diet, it seems logical to stop eating after you’ve allowed yourself a sweet treat, or a handful of chips. In terms of your oral health, however, there is some suggestion that your restraint may put your teeth at greater risk. Nutritionists for the British Nutrition Foundation suggest that eating a piece of cheese after having something sugary balances out the acidity levels in your mouth – which can significantly reduce the risk of cavities. While snacking on something crunchy is also a good way to dislodge any sticky party foods that may have clung to your teeth. Be aware though that some people inherit oral health that is more fragile than others, so this may not be true for everyone.
Teeth-friendly Party Food Recipes to Try
The best way to guard your dental health is to cater for yourself. While you might be inclined to avoid cooking during the party season, there are plenty of foods that can be put together with little hassle. Here are some great party snacks that give you some dentist-friendly options.
Kafta – Lebanese Sausage Recipe
Lebanese sausages are easy to make, easy to cook, and very easy to eat. The metal skewers used for cooking and serving means there’s less mess, and unlike store-bought sausages they don’t contain anything someone could be allergic too. Choosing your own mince mix means you can control the fat content, too.
Recipe for Spinach Feta Pinwheels
The pastry in this recipe is offset by plenty of healthy spinach, making for a nutritious snack that won’t have a big impact on your teeth. When they’re this easy to make yourself, why wouldn’t you want to impress your guests with these party snacks?!
Crunchy Chicken Wings Recipe
5-Minute Espresso Walnut Brownies Recipe
Christmas isn’t a celebration without something sweet and delicious to look forward to. Luckily, the trend toward raw foods has produced some delicious recipes that are not just healthier than regular treats, but a lot quicker to make.
Recipe for Raspberry Lemon Doughnuts
This vegan recipe provides plenty of sweet goodness without the processed sugar. A little chewier than regular doughnuts, the combination of dates and fresh raspberries provides the sweetness of a decadent dessert without sacrificing your teeth.
Tooth Friendly Party Drinks
Australian summertime parties are synonymous with celebration drinking for many. Unfortunately, cavities and alcohol go hand-in-hand and result in many dentist visits once party time is over.
Alcohol can have a terrible effect on your teeth.
When the alcohol enters your mouth, it breaks down into sugars which then attack the tooth enamel. Many alcoholic drinks, including cocktails with mixers and seasonal specialties such as Christmas eggnog, have added sugars which will linger in your mouth and promote bacteria that leads to decay.
Other party favourites, such as wine and beer, are acidic and can weaken the enamel of your teeth. These drinks also tend to be sipped and consumed more slowly, which means that their impact on your teeth may last longer than other drinks.
Spirits such as gin and tequila with ice or mineral water may be a better choice for a tooth friendly party drink.
When it comes to the peril of alcohol for your teeth, it’s not just the sugar that’s detrimental to your dental health. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it encourages your body to get rid of fluids. That leads to a dry mouth, which means the natural bacteria-fighting agents in your saliva aren’t having a chance to work properly.
Alcohol doesn’t have to be cut from your party plans completely, there are high pH options, like Cava (a Spanish Champagne-like wine) you can consider. But it’s a good idea to get into the habit of drinking a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume. This not only replaces the fluids your body is losing from the diuretic nature of alcohol, it also helps rinse your mouth.
The long-term consumption of alcohol has been linked with quite a few dental issues, some of them very serious. If you are a regular drinker it’s a good idea to keep up with your regular dentist checkups especially around the party season when excess is common place for a short time.
Your Party Bag to Survive the Party Season
Finally, you’re more likely to emerge from the holiday season cavity-free if you have prepared.
Tuck these things into your bag (or wallet) before you head out to party:
- Mouthwash – a travel-size bottle of mouthwash is a good option for rinsing away sugary liquids. Mouthwash can be a better option than simply drinking water as a fluoride-enriched brand will give your teeth a fluoride boost, helping them stay strong. Water alone is likely to rinse away your saliva, lessening the protection for your teeth.
- Flossers – dental flossers are a must-have if you’re going to be eating a sit down dinner or there’s a chance you’ll indulge in some ‘sticky’ foods. It’s not just lollies you have to watch out for – even foods like pasta can cling to your teeth and promote cavities. A quick, surreptitious flossing in the bathroom after eating will save you untold pain later on.
- Interdental brush – not taking a bag to the event? Tuck an interdental brush into your wallet for a quick mouth clean. Interdental brushes are useful for dislodging food when you’ve been eating and don’t have toothpaste and toothbrush handy.
- Sugar-free gum – while properly brushing your teeth is not a good idea when you’ve just eaten or been drinking; chewing some sugar-free gum is a reasonable substitute. Chewing encourages your mouth to produce saliva, which can then start fighting the bacteria promoted by the party food you’ve eaten. It is thought that some types of sugar substitutes (such as Xylitol) in sugar-free gums can promote oral health (though there is still research and evidence needed to prove these statements). Gum is useful to help dislodge any stuck food as well as freshening your post-party breath.