It’s that time of year: we are in the peak of the holiday season. Although it is the most joyful time of the year for many people, it also comes with its own set of challenges. Entertaining guests becomes more frequent, temptations are harder to resist, and your oral hygiene can begin to slip away.

Between all the prepping and running around, it can be easy to “let yourself go” during the holidays. Even small parts of our daily routine, like brushing and flossing, can feel overwhelming. These motivation blocks can lead to health problems, including poor oral hygiene and stained teeth.  It’s important to be aware of the foods you eat and how it can impact your dental care.

Here are some everyday foods that can damage your smile and diminish your overall wellness.

Those Irresistible Potato Chips

Potato chips can be incredibly addictive, and not just in a figurative way. These salty treats can actually activate the reward center in our brain, making it hard to stop once you get started. Despite the obvious pleasure they bring, potato chips can get stuck in your teeth and wear down enamel over time. The starch in potato chips can lead to plaque buildup, which is the perfect recipe for gum disease.

Traditional Stocking Stuffers

Sweets can be near-impossible to avoid during the holidays, especially because it has become traditional to fill our stockings with them. This candy – particularly the hard and sticky kind – can be detrimental to your dental care when eaten in excess. Even if you don’t see it, these candies have a tendency to stick to your teeth, opening a window of opportunity for harmful bacteria. Over time, this bacteria will wear your teeth down and produce cavities.

Flavored Cocktails and Mixers

Alcohol on its own can be hazardous to your oral health, but we won’t go there right now. While mixers fall in the beverage category, many of their ingredients can be traced back to food groups. There is a strong chance that your favorite cocktail is loaded with sugar and acidic ingredients. Though delicious, these popular holiday drinks can cause your teeth to decay in a non-so-sweet way. If you are going to drink alcohol, consider switching to a lighter alternative like beer or Gin. Make sure you drink plenty of water to rinse your palette and stay hydrated throughout the festivities.

Lose the Lemon

Most of us assume that fruit, by nature, can do no wrong. The truth is, even healthy food can have a negative impact on our oral hygiene if consumed in excess. Fruits with a high acid content – like lemons or oranges – can wear down the enamel on your teeth and lead to erosion over time. These fruits and juices do carry valuable nutrition for your body, so you shouldn’t cut them out of your diet entirely. However, you should be mindful about how much you consume and follow up with your dentist on a regular basis.

It’s not easy to be on good behavior during the holiday season. It requires each one of us to put a little more time and energy into managing our oral health. But it’s important to make time for self-care, no matter how busy we may find ourselves. A few good decisions now could save you from a series of negative outcomes in the future.  Remember, you won’t be the only one waiting for junk food – the bacteria in your mouth is also getting ready for a feast.