Thanksgiving is right around the corner! And Turkey Day basically signifies a series of holiday events and festivities that will see us right into the new year. With so many delicious food options, plentiful feasts, and mouthwatering spreads on the horizon, it can be difficult to make choices that specifically help to promote your oral health. That being said, we do want to point out some foods often found among a Thanksgiving Day meal that may treat your teeth better than others and keep your teeth healthy throughout the most festive time of year.
We’ll start with logistics and then dive into the deliciousness – so here goes, a look at Thanksgiving Day tooth care tips to keep in mind as we sprint into the holiday season:
Set & Stick to a Mealtime
On holidays like Thanksgiving, we tend to start grazing early & often. If food is in front of us, we blindly eat and may quickly indulge beyond our limits because the “serve yourself” options just keep on coming. This constant grazing not only feeds us, but the bacteria in our mouths, too. One way to minimize grazing is to set and stick to a meal time so that you can manage your appetite and your body’s expectations. Another option is to have a toothbrush & floss handy; flossing throughout the day is a great way to keep tooth care top of mind.
You may think we’re joking, but we’re truly not! That’s right, we’re giving you the green light to pepper your plate with cheese or any other dairy-related options available as you begin your Thanksgiving Day feed. Why? Dairy is rich in calcium, which helps to protect tooth enamel and maintain strength in both bones and teeth, an important element of tooth care.
Load Up on Veggies
Vegetables are always a good choice for many reasons. Often featured as garnishes or after thoughts in appetizers but generally a large focus when it comes to the meal itself, veggies are rich in fiber and contain vitamins and minerals that help to keep your teeth strong and promote healthy gums.
We get it, it’s a holiday. You’re probably enjoying coffee (Irish or not!), wine, spirits and/or a beer, maybe more this year where there hasn’t been much to cheer about. But be mindful of your consumption, especially when it comes to coffee and red wine since these are acidic beverages that tend to stain the surfaces of your teeth. Make sure that you’re drinking water alongside these libations as well as during your meal so that you’re staying hydrated and cleaning food out of your mouth. Additionally, drinking plenty of water can curb your appetite and help you to prevent overeating while also preventing dry mouth, which can lead to bacteria buildup.
Beware of Starchy Foods
Aside from the main event, the turkey itself, two of the more popular Thanksgiving side dishes are mashed potatoes and stuffing. As delicious as they are, they also have a secret power that you may not be aware of: they act similarly to sugary foods. Starches convert to sugars, which feed the bacteria in your mouth. It isn’t fair to say that dessert is the only cavity-causing culprit on Thanksgiving; starches also have the potential to cause tooth decay.
Treat Your Sweet Tooth with Care
Guess what? Your sweet tooth doesn’t just attract dessert items; it also enjoys foods like cranberry sauce, candied yams, cornbread and sweet potato casserole. We’re not telling you not to enjoy an edible nightcap like pecan or pumpkin pie, apple crisp or any chocolatey treat; we’re just suggesting that you limit yourself to the amount of sweet treats you consume. Your teeth will thank you later.
Our last piece of advice (in this post): if you’re able to schedule a cleaning with your dentist between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we would recommend doing so. It’s the time of year that we eat in larger quantities and in higher frequencies, so prioritize that healthy smile and tooth care while you celebrate the season!