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Holiday Beverages: Good or Bad for Your Teeth?

the lady with the beverages

It’s the time of year where walks outside in the cold, crisp air leave you yearning for something warm, tasty, and seasonal to thaw out with. And oh, is there plenty to choose from! Whether it’s fragrant apple cider or spicy chai tea, seasonal beverages are one of the highlights of winter for many people. With new combinations to try and old favorites to revisit, it’s not hard to have a mug or a glass next to you throughout the holiday season.

However, as fond as we may be of our favorite treats, our teeth don’t necessarily feel the same way. Whether they’re stuffed with sugar or laden with alcohol, several holiday favorites may do you more harm than good. Today, we’ll be reviewing our list of seasonal drinks and checking it twice to tell you which ones are naughty and which ones are nice.

The Naughty


Dating back to 1775, when it was first introduced with rum, eggnog is a nostalgic holiday treat for many families, but it’s also arguably one of the worst choices you can make for your poor teeth. Packed full of sugar and usually served with some form of alcohol mixed in, it’s everything the bacteria in your mouth could wish for to start churning out fresh plaque and tartar. If you don’t care for the taste or texture of eggnog, this should be an easy one to skip, but if the holidays just aren’t complete without a cup or two, at least do your Barrie dentist a favor and follow it with a glass of water.

Red Wine

Red wine is fruity and flavourful, and in the winter, is usually advertised alongside a crackling fire and a blanket shared with someone you love. However, its effect on your mouth isn’t nearly as romantic. Alcohols dry out your mouth, which means you won’t be producing as much saliva as you normally do. This, in turn, means that any sugars or acids in the wine end up hanging out with your teeth for longer than you’d think, creating a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Plus, red wine is one of the most notorious culprits for stained teeth, so if you’re going to have a glass, make sure you follow it with – you guessed it – a glass of water.

Hot Cocoa

Many childhood memories are punctuated by a warm mug of chocolatey, sweet cocoa at the end of a day playing in the snow. It’s still a holiday favorite for adults, but of course, all that sweet indulgence comes with a price.

Cocoa is full of sugar, and the fact that you have to sip it slowly over time means that the sugar is exposed to your teeth for long periods. If the cocoa contains marshmallows, that’s another layer of risk, as the sticky sweets can get lodged in the nooks and crannies of your teeth and gum line. You’re going to want to make sure you’re brushing and flossing as your dentist has told you after this one!

The Nice


We know, we know – water isn’t the most exciting choice for your holiday party. However, consider all the benefits: it contains no sugar to feed plaque production, it’s healthy for you, and it can help you (after all, a lot of the calories we consume in the winter are hidden in sweet drinks like cocoa).

If you really can’t stand plain water at a party, there are some things you can do to jazz it up a bit. Water infusions with additions like mint, pear, pomegranate, cranberry, rosemary, or cinnamon give it a special flavor without any of the negative effects of alcoholic cocktails. Just use caution when adding citrus fruits, as the acid they contain can also be damaging to your enamel.

Green Tea

Want something seasonal and healthy? Green tea doesn’t just look gorgeous in glass mugs after dinner; it can also help contribute to your overall periodontal health. Packed with antioxidants that help reduce gum inflammation, green tea can also help prevent the growth of additional bacteria in the mouth, slowing the progress of any plaque or tartar that may be hiding.

When in Doubt: Moderation & Rinse

“But Dr. Wong,” we hear you say, “I love having eggnog/cocoa/wine over the holidays! I can’t just give it up!”  We get it. Our favorite treats are treats for a reason, and not everyone can make the switch to green tea or water overnight.

If you’re celebrating the holiday and you decide to indulge in a beverage on our Naughty list, do so in moderation, and make sure you rinse your mouth out with a glass of water afterwards. Being aware of what you’re consuming is better than not being aware at all, and every step you take to protect your teeth matters.

Now, if you raise a glass to your lips and wince as your teeth meet the sugary liquid, you might not be able to put off your dental care for much longer. Cavities are easy to ignore if the pain is intermittent, but if they’re allowed to grow, they can become very serious. That’s just one of the reasons why it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your dentist’s office in Barrie at least twice a year. In addition to checking for cavities, your dentist will ensure that your tooth enamel is in good shape. At Dr. Elston Wong Dentistry, our team works closely with you in identifying a solution that matches your oral health goals.

If you’d like to make an appointment to keep your smile merry and bright, give our Barrie dental office a call at (705) 721-1143. You can also send us a message directly online.

Dr. Elston Wong Portrait

About Dr. Elston Wong

Dr. Elston Wong completed his dental degree at The University of Toronto in 1999 before arriving in Barrie in 2002. After graduating, he continued to learn everything he could about dentistry. Now he has taken the time to share important information for anyone to read.

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