We all know the drill: Floss, brush, visit the dentist bi-yearly, repeat. And while that routine is the key to a healthy mouth, lesser-known culprits, like the season’s trendy foods, may be working against your good-for-you habits. “Fall foods related to Halloween and Thanksgiving are high in sugars and are not so good for your teeth,” Mazen Natour, DMD, a Manhattan-based prosthodontist says. It’s safe to say that moderately indulging won’t cause the Austin Powers effect, but just in case, go easy on these autumn favorites.

fall favorites

Caramel Apples: “Caramel is probably the worst food for your mouth,” says Natour. The pure sugar coating, which can cause cavities, crystalizes in a pan and becomes rock hard, putting you at risk for chipping. If you must take a bite, brush shortly after consumption. “It actually removes the layers of sugars that are ammunition for the plaque that is already coating teeth, preventing further damage,” he adds.

Candy: It’s not about having a mini Snickers or two, it’s about having 367 of ’em. “Not only is candy made of pure sugars and artificial coloring agents that are completely unhealthy for teeth; the quantity that is distributed around Halloween is astonishing! I mean, it’s a competition who gets more,” says Natour. Be extra conscious about what you — or your kids — eat, and clock those dental hygiene visits (maybe make it a double this time of year?).

Chestnuts, Macadamia Nuts, and Nuts With Shells: Let those chestnuts just roast on the open fire since snacking on them can cause chips and fractures. “These autumn favorites can cause serious damage to your teeth as they can be hard as a rock,” adds Natour. Instead, whip up a mouth-friendly fall smoothie.

Booze: Cider in itself can do a number on your pearly whites, but add booze to the mix and it’s a lethal combo. Although the seasonal beverage has a high acidity level that can cause tooth decay, we tend to forget about moderation when the drinks are spiked. “Drinks with liqueurs, which are very popular around this time of year, are high in sugars,” says Natour. Minimize the damage by rinsing well if a toothbrush isn’t handy.

Cranberries: The seemingly harmless berry, whether served as a fruit, juice, or as a Turkey Day side, stains the heck out of your enamel. “And because it’s mostly consumed with additives and sugars, it also has a negative effect on teeth,” he explains. The good news for cranberry lovers? Some research suggests that 100 percent pure cranberry juice, though hard to find and bitter on its own, might be beneficial to your smile.

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