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Healthy Habits: How-Tos

Party Drinks That Damage Your Teeth

Stay away from these surprising smile-destroyers.

At a holiday bash chock full of bacon-wrapped appetizers, gooey cheese fondue, and wine, a glass of Merlot seems the least of your concerns. But wine and many other seasonal drink favorites are, gulp, smile saboteurs, says Dr. Jennifer Bone, a spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry and family dentist in Kerrville, Texas. Follow her advice to keep your pearly whites bright -- without seeming like the Grinch.

Every alcoholic drink -- from cocktails to champagne, beer to wine -- contains acid, which can create surface imperfections in your teeth, allowing stains to penetrate. But some types of alcohol, like fruity cocktails and red wine, are double whammies: The mixed drinks are usually packed with sugary juices or soda, and when the sugar breaks down in your mouth, it creates even more acid. And red wine, of course, is a potent tooth stainer all on its own.

Non-alcoholic beverages like eggnog, hot cocoa, apple cider and soda are also poor choices for your teeth and smile because they too contain sugar, acid or both. Plus, they’re packed with calories -- and who wants to blow calories on cola when the roasted pecans are so much yummier?

Water and green tea are smile-friendly -- not to mention, smart choices for your diet, says Dr. Boone. You can make either more festive by dropping in few raspberries or sprig of mint. Another idea: Add a fanned-out strawberry or lemon wedge to the rim of the glass.

You might think it’s smart to order one drink and make it last for a while. But it’s actually better to enjoy a problem beverage at a normal pace than to nurse a glass for hours. When you do that, your teeth never get a break from the acid, says Dr. Boone. Afterward, rinse your mouth with water or chew a piece of sugar-free gum to help wash away some of the acid.

There’s a delicious acid-fighting weapon on the party buffet -- cheese. Any kind helps re-mineralize tooth structure. Spread soft cheeses like Brie on cucumber slices, celery stalks or other veggies, and score one for your smile.

Karen Cicero is a health and nutrition writer and editor with more than 15 years experience. She has written health articles for national publications such as Prevention, Shape, Health, Fitness, Self and Cooking Light. She has edited the dental column for Heart & Soul magazine and is the co-author of the book Kitchen Counter Cures.

Also read: Teeth Whitening at Home: 6 Do’s and Don’ts and 19 Healthy Holiday Gifts for Everyone in Your Life!

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