According to Statistic Brain, some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions are losing weight and staying healthy–not that this comes to anyone’s surprise! After Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas goodies, is it any wonder why people would be eager to start fresh in January? But since people mainly focus on weight goals, they may miss out on other health-related resolutions.

While holiday treats can certainly affect your waistline, they can also greatly affect your oral health. In fact, the site just released a good article to help people reduce oral issues they may incur during holiday feasting:

Do Choose Low-Sugar Holiday Foods and Beverages

Say no to sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, gumdrops, candy canes, and taffy. All these foods can destroy your tooth enamel and encourage bacterial growth. To keep your smile safe, choose healthier alternatives. For instance, gingerbread cookies have much less sugar than sugar cookies and snickerdoodles. Other excellent choices include oatmeal- and nut-based cookies.

Pumpkin pie proves healthier for your teeth than pecan pie. It’s lower in sugar, and it also doesn’t present a chipping hazard for your pearly whites. Additionally, when you make yams this holiday season, leave out the brown sugar and marshmallow topping. Enjoy the potatoes in their natural state or with a slice of butter.

If you’re feeling deprived, take an extra helping of cranberries. Recent research shows that they can help prevent dental cavities. Plus, they’re delicious!

But of course, some of these tips are easier said than done–especially if you’re the guest at a party. And while cavities are certainly a functional problem, you may end up doing cosmetic damage as well. Although sugary sweets can’t stain your teeth, they can break down your enamel, thus giving them an uneven coloration. Plus, holidays are also rife with drinks known for staining teeth, such as wine and beer.

To fix these cosmetic issues, you may want to look into teeth whitening. There’s just one caveat: you may be tempted to overdo it–especially since holiday goodies can quickly undo the gains you’ve made.

Some people think that just because teeth whitening is a safe procedure, they are off scot-free when overbleaching. But there are some risks of sensitivity and tissue irritation. One strategy to avoid over whitening is to wait until the new year, when your eating habits have normalized and won’t reverse the shades of your teeth as much.

Another option is to ask your dentist about take-home trays. These trays are better than store-bought solutions since they are created in-office by your dentist. However, they have a lower concentration of hydrogen peroxide, so you will be less likely to have side effects if you accidentally overdo it.

And if you still aren’t convinced that over whitening is an issue, just take a look at this startling article from Prevention magazine:

Are You Obsessed with Whiter Teeth?

Unfortunately, many people don’t stop when they should. “Ten years ago, people weren’t even aware of bleaching,” says Irwin Smigel, DDS, president of the American Society for Dental Aesthetics. “Now every dentist I know has had to cut off at least one patient because of overbleaching. People come in with great, great pain, and I can see immediately from the color of their teeth and the irritation along the gums that they’ve been bleaching and bleaching.”

The urge to keep whitening may spring from the fact that teeth stubbornly refuse to maintain their same sparkling brightness for long. “Once you stop with the bleach, it regresses—your teeth start returning to their original color,” says Smigel. “Very few people are happy with the color once it starts regressing, so they’ll do teeth whitening again and again.” Dental laboratories are working to keep pace by creating new caps, fillings, and crowns in ever-brighter shades.

For some individuals, the pursuit of blindingly white teeth can become a true obsession. “There’s anorexia nervosa among certain people who desperately want to be thin, and there’s also a similar syndrome for people whose teeth are never white enough,” says John W. Siegal, DDS, a New York City dentist. This can go so far as to be classified as a form of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)—a distorted view of one’s features that becomes so consuming that it interrupts daily functioning and requires psychiatric treatment—says Katharine A. Phillips, MD, a professor of psychiatry at Brown Medical School.

As you can see, in the end overbleaching doesn’t work. The ideal way to get long-lasting results is to whiten as much as your dentist allows and practice good lifestyle choices that affect your oral health. These choices include eating well, avoiding smoking, brushing and flossing, drinking in moderation, and the like.

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