Can you believe that Thanksgiving 2023 is already here? What you may not know is that some of the foods in a traditional Thanksgiving feast provide the nutrients necessary for healthy teeth, while others can increase your risk of tooth decay. In order to help you and your family make tooth-conscious choices this festive season, check out our list of the best and the worst Thanksgiving foods for your teeth.
Let’s start with the good foods; and yes, they are aplenty!
The star of the show
Turkey is the edible centerpiece of most Thanksgiving meals (save for the vegetarians/vegans out there!). Because it’s packed with protein and B vitamins that strengthen teeth and bone, it’s an optimal eating option when it comes to your oral health.
Greens and more
It should come as no surprise that you will also find tooth-strengthening vitamins and minerals in vegetable-based Thanksgiving dishes that contain veggies like green beans, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and/or squash.
Here is a look at a few delicious Thanksgiving additions that may not be so healthy for your chompers:
Though they may seem healthy on the surface, beware of how sugar-inspired sweet potato and pumpkin dishes can turn said veggies from good to not so good. While these delicious orange foods do contain many nutrients essential for a healthy mouth, including vitamin A and vitamin C, dishes like sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie are typically prepared with lots of sugar, which increases your risk for cavities. This is even before you add those deliciously sticky marshmallows to your sweet potatoes, and whipped cream or ice cream on top of your pumpkin pie. Try to limit the sugar in these dishes, but also remember to enjoy these treats in moderation and with a glass of water so that you’re immediately removing debris from your teeth.
The sauce of all sauces
Keep cranberry sauce on your radar – it may seem innocent, but its high acid content can soften your enamel and make it more susceptible to erosion. Plus, many cranberry sauces contain a high amount of sugar that will become food for your oral bacteria. If you can’t go without it, try to prepare it with minimal sugar, dollop a small amount onto your plate, and be sure to drink some water with it!
What’s your favorite Thanksgiving side? Or dessert? Or aspect of the holiday?
Here are a few tips to enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends:
- Make sure you take the time to enjoy your company, express gratitude, and indulge in moderation. Your guest list might be large, but no one wants to invite tooth decay to the party!
- Focus on drinking plenty of water throughout your day and whenever you eat. Festive libations and a mouthwatering spread can distract you from focusing on your oral health so if you remember anything, remember to hydrate!
- Avoid brushing your teeth for 30-60 minutes after eating; instead, chew a piece of sugar-free gum for at least 20 minutes to help wash away any sugar from your feast.
- To keep your oral health on track throughout the holiday season, remember to brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes each time, floss each day, and keep up with your biannual cleanings and exams.
The Highland Dental Group team wishes all of our patients, friends and families a very Happy Thanksgiving and kick off to the holiday season. Have questions about how to best maintain your oral health during the busiest time of the year? Contact us – we’re here and happy to assist you!