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Health Report: Fairbanks dentist shares tips for fighting Christmas cavities

Published: Dec. 22, 2020 at 4:09 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -Christmas is right around the corner, and with it comes long upheld traditions of holiday dinners and desserts. But like coal in the bottom of a stocking, the possibility of tooth decay lurks behind every candy cane and sugar plum.

Shawn Miller, General Dentist and owner of Golden Heart Dental Fairbanks shared some tips to avoid increasing the risk of cavities this holiday season. “One of the things that happens around the holidays that can be a really big contributory factor to cavities and gum disease is kind of the frequency of eating. During the holidays we tend to snack a little bit more, we’re kind of eating throughout the day, and that is actually one of the biggest factors in cavity formation,” said Miller.

The risks of frequent snacking are exacerbated by the holidays, as the majority of festive foods most likely contain some form of sugar. “Whether it’s obvious like a cake or muffins, or brownies, but even some things that are healthier that have those natural sugars like fruits and nuts... if you’re frequently eating those, even small bites of them at a time, that is going to really increase your risk of getting decay,” said Miller.

In addition to the usual oral hygiene habits of twice daily brushing and flossing, Miller offered tips particular to minimizing the harm of these holiday eating trends. “One thing you can do is really focus on not grazing throughout the day. Just eat your meals. Five times a day or less is ideal to put anything in your mouth other than water.”

According to Miller using a xylitol based or sugar free gum after eating has the benefit of increasing saliva flow, which helps fight cavities. “It also can help to kind of cleanse your mouth of those food products that are kind of lingering behind. That xylitol can also really help to neutralize the PH of your mouth, get it back to normal so it’s not in that cavity forming state.”

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