The holidays are upon us, and many of us are preparing to celebrate with family gatherings that include all our favorite seasonal foods. But with all the excitement, it’s easy to forget that these foods can have on your teeth.

4 Foods to Avoid during the Holidays

Your Chapel Hill, NC general dentist wants you to enjoy the holidays in a way that doesn’t compromise your oral health. Here are 4 delicious holiday foods that can also be bad for your dental health.

  • Popcorn – Popcorn is a holiday favorite, but at this time of year it’s often drenched with caramel for a sweet, satisfying treat. Unfortunately, the hard kernels can crack or break a tooth, and they also get stuck between your teeth which can lead to bacterial growth and other complications. If you want to indulge, rinse your mouth and floss as soon as possible.
  • Deeply-colored foods – Some deeply-colored foods can be very healthy, like beets or curry. But the downside is that these types of foods can quickly stain your teeth. Remember to immediately rinse your mouth with warm water or a mouthwash after you consume these foods during your holiday feast.
  • Carbonated sugary drinks – Consumption of carbonated drinks has increased dramatically, but the sugar in these drinks linger in your mouth and form acid that eats away at dental enamel and leads to decay. Try substituting with water or water-infused fruit juice to quench your thirst and keep your teeth healthy.
  • Tomato products (ketchup, hot sauce, pasta sauce) – The acidity level of tomato products can soften the enamel of your teeth, resulting in increased tooth sensitivity or tooth decay. Dental enamel is also prone to stains due to the dark color of tomato sauces. Adding water to the sauce can help decrease acidity levels. 

Please Call for More Information

Your Chapel Hill, NC general dentist is committed to providing you with all the information you need to keep your smile healthy. Please don’t hesitate to call us to learn more!


For the most part, people visit their dentists when they need a routine cleaning or to get a cavity filled, but emergency dentist services exist at the offices of Dr. Diane Hourigan because sometimes people incur unexpected damage to their teeth that requires immediate attention. While there are a number of ways that someone can chip or crack their teeth, we find there are a surprising number of patients who find themselves in trouble simply because of something they ate.

It's hard to think of certain foods as “dangerous,” but it is true that some foods are much more likely to crack or chip a tooth than others. The following are some of the more common foods responsible for causing damage to teeth:


While candy is bad for teeth anyway because of its high sugar content, hard or frozen candy can be a problem in a different way if you bite into a morsel that is especially tough. Jawbreakers, butterscotch discs, rock candy, and Jolly Ranchers are the types of candies that can do the most damage, so take your time eating them so you don’t damage your teeth.


While popcorn itself is fluffy and soft, it’s hard to know when those hidden unpopped kernels lie beneath the pillowy exteriors of the treat. If you hit a seed, it can crack or chip a tooth.

Crunchy Produce

Not all raw vegetables require a hard chomp from teeth, but certain culprits like carrots and apples have been known to cause some problems. They are hard enough where, if bitten into at just the right angle, they can chip a tooth.

Ice Cubes

Plenty of people enjoy chewing on ice cubes, but as it literally is frozen water, doing so can cause massive problems for teeth. Sucking on an ice cube is a fine way to enjoy the guilt-free coldness, so avoid chewing down on them if you can.


Almonds are maybe the worst culprit, but all nuts can be hard to chew and therefore tough on teeth.

Bone-In Meat

While the meat itself is not the problem in foods like ribs or chicken wings, many people get a little too excited and chew right through the meat to the bone. Should your teeth hit that bone with reckless abandon, it could chip or crack a tooth fairly easily.

Fruit with Pits

The same problem exists for fruit with pits, such as peaches or plums. Once you get past the soft fruit, the rock-solid pit in the middle can cause some serious issues.

Schedule an Appointment

If you should ever end up with a damaged tooth that requires emergency dental care, please call the office of Dr. Diane Hourigan, and we’ll work to get you in as soon as possible to repair the damage. As a respected general dentist, she has a lot of experience making these types of repairs, but remember to tread carefully when eating these foods anyway, just in case!



Are your gums tender and inflamed? Do they bleed when you brush?

Periodontal disease (gum disease) is a common problem that affects nearly half of adults over the age of 30. It is a bacterial infection that attacks gum tissue and supporting structures of your teeth.

Severe gum disease is the primary cause of tooth loss. As serious as that is, patients of our Chapel Hill general dentist are surprised to learn that there are other serious physical complications associated with the disease.

While periodontal disease, heart disease, and stroke may seem to be completely unrelated, numerous studies show that people suffering from gum disease are at twice the risk for coronary heart disease. Researchers have also found that oral infection is a risk factor for stroke.

Heart Disease and Stroke

We know now that the presence of periodontal disease can aggravate existing heart conditions. Several theories explain the link between heart disease, stroke, and periodontal disease:

  • Oral bacteria affect the heart– There are many strains of periodontal bacteria. Some of these enter the bloodstream and attach to the fatty plaques in the coronary arteries. This buildup contributes to clot formation, putting you at higher risk for gum disease.
  • Immune System– Individuals who have high levels of oral bacteria may also have weaker immune systems. This may set off a chain of events that have been shown to contribute to the onset of specific forms of heart disease.

Seeking Treatment for Gum Disease

Since periodontal disease appears to be a risk factor for both heart attack and stroke, it is essential to seek immediate treatment.

The good news is that with semi-annual exams and cleanings, Chapel Hill general dentist Dr. Diane Hourigan and conscientious oral hygiene, you may never have to worry about developing gum disease. If it’s time for your routine appointment, please call our office.