Give Your Teeth A Healthy Thanksgiving This Year

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If you’re looking for ways to make this year’s Thanksgiving meal a little healthier for your oral health, then we have seven tips to help you keep everyone’s teeth and gums happy this year.

Slow Down on the Sugar

If you love sweets, then Thanksgiving is often a sugared-filled delight for you. Marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes, cranberry relish, and a variety of pies covered in whipped cream are often packed with sugar. That’s tough on your teeth because sugar is a favorite food of bacteria in your mouth. And bacteria consuming sugar is the first step in the creation of a cavity in your mouth. There’s a simple solution to avoid all that sugar – switch to erythritol or xylitol. They don’t create cavities but are great as sweeteners.

Beware of Brightly-Colored Foods and Drinks

If your Thanksgiving spread includes red wine, cranberry relish, cherry or blueberry pie, then you might want to reconsider your choices. Brightly-colored food and drink can dull the enamel on your teeth and increase the odds of staining. So this year, cut back on bright foods and be sure to drink lots of water to wash away those stain-causers.

Reduce the Starches

Stuffing, cornbread and rolls are all starch-filled – which is why most of us love them. But consider cutting down on the amount you eat this year. You’ll get a double bonus if you do that because you’ll be reducing the calories you consume and reducing the opportunity for bacteria in your mouth to use the starches as food (starches convert to sugar when you eat them) that can lead to cavities. This year have an extra portion of protein or vegetables instead of a starch-filled food.

Acid Makes Your Teeth’s Enamel Unhappy

Acidic foods and beverages are tough on the enamel that covers and protects your teeth. The reason? The acid softens your teeth’s enamel, making it easier for bacteria to start the process of creating cavities. Cranberry juice and red wine are the biggest culprits in terms of acidity. But you can reduce the impact by keeping a glass of water handy and sipping from it between drinks of your acidic beverage. Also, be sure to wait at least 30 minutes before you brush after you have eaten acidic foods. The acid softens your enamel and the bristles on your toothbrush can damage the enamel.

Get A Little Nutty

You can strengthen and remineralize your teeth by spending some time at the nut dish this Thanksgiving. That’s because nuts are loaded with calcium and good minerals. Plus the nuts produce lots of saliva when you chew them!

Think “Rainbow” When You Fill Your Plate

If your plate on Thanksgiving looks like a rainbow of colorful vegetables, then your teeth will be happy. That’s because vegetables are packed with minerals and vitamins. Orange and red vegies will provide you with lots of Vitamin C, while green leafy vegies will deliver lots of calcium. A bonus is the fact that chewing raw vegetables will create lots of saliva, which will naturally wash away your oral enemy – bacteria. And don’t forget – celery’s fibrous strands are great at helping clean between your teeth!

Drinks Lots of Water…And Have a Cup of Tea

Damage to your enamel caused by acids is reversed when you drink fluoridated tap water. You also double your cavity-fighting efforts if you brew some green or black tea using fluoridated tap water. Teas kill bacteria and thus fight cavities. Sipping water or tea while you eat will also wash away acids caused by starchy and sugar-laden foods.

Sources: MouthHealthy.org (American Dental Association), DeltaDental.com, Colgate.com

Is Your Thanksgiving Meal Good for Your Teeth?

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Family, fellowship and food are just a few of the reasons why we love Thanksgiving. While the food may be flowing at the Turkey Day table, the smiles are too! Believe it or not, your teeth love Thanksgiving just as much as you. Below are some of the good – and not so good – dishes you’ll see at a typical Thanksgiving dinner feast when it comes to their impact on your teeth. Plus how they rate from a “Healthy Mouth” perspective.

Turkey

The Good: This main course is packed with protein. Turkey is unarguably the main attraction of the Thanksgiving table. Turkey is loaded with protein, making it a fan favorite for both your body and smile. Protein has phosphorus in it, and when phosphorus mixes with calcium and vitamin D, it creates strong bones and teeth. So even though eating a Thanksgiving feast can make you sleepy, you can rest assured that turkey is a healthy option for a great smile.
The Bad: It often gets stuck between your teeth – so flossing is often required before you take a nap.
Healthy Mouth: It's the star of the Thanksgiving table. Gobble it up!

 Stuffing

The Good: What would a turkey be without stuffing? And depending on what you put in your stuffing, it could have ingredients that are very good for your teeth. Celery is great for your teeth because of its water content (your mouth loves water) and onions have strong bacteria-fighting properties (and bacteria lead to plaque).

The Bad: If your stuffing is sticky, be sure to floss.

Healthy Mouth: It’s a tradition in most homes – enjoy (and floss).

Cranberry Sauce

The Good: It's a tasty Thanksgiving tradition.
The Bad: Cranberries are naturally tart, so sugar or sugar substitutes are often added to products, including sauce. This side dish can be sticky, acidic and may temporarily stain your teeth. 
Healthy Mouth: If eaten alone the sugar content, stickiness, tendency for the little berries to get stuck between your teeth and acidity make it one of those foods that needs to be eaten with a meal.

Yams

The Good: Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamins A and C, which help keep your gums healthy. They can also be prepared in many ways.
The Bad: Candied yam recipes call for marshmallows. Sticky foods can damage your teeth since they tend to stay on your teeth longer than other types of food.
Healthy Mouth: If candied, enjoy in moderation and drink plenty of water with your meal to help wash away any food particles on your teeth.

Green Bean Casserole

The Good: Green beans are healthy, mushrooms are healthy, and onions are healthy. 
The Bad: It can be sticky and little beans may get stuck in your teeth.
Healthy Mouth: Dig in! But you may want to keep a floss pick handy.

Macaroni and Cheese

The Good: Say cheese! Many recipes call for cheese and milk. The calcium from these ingredients helps strengthen teeth.
The Bad: Good cheese can be gooey, and white pastas are also starchy and can leave sugar behind on your teeth.
Healthy Mouth: As with many feast-worthy foods, eat a sensible portion and break out your brush and floss later.

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

The Good: Potatoes are an important dietary source of vitamin C, B6 and potassium. 
The Bad: Potatoes are starchy, and cavity-causing bacteria loves the sugar that makes up starch.
Healthy Mouth: If covered with gravy, the health benefits of the overall dish are diminished to some extent, but this is a holiday and only comes once a year.

Pumpkin Pie

The Good: Pumpkins are decorative and delicious, but did you know they’re good for your teeth too? Pumpkin pulp is filled with filled enamel-building Vitamin A, fiber and potassium. Your chompers love all parts of the pumpkin – including their seeds! Pumpkin seeds are a good source of magnesium, a nutrient that can strengthen teeth. Pumpkins aren’t just for eating - they make fabulous decorations for your Turkey Day table. Make a pumpkin party cooler, custom centerpiece or place card holders. The pumpkin possibilities are endless!
The Bad: There’s the added sugar in the pie itself and whatever whipped topping you put on top.
Healthy Mouth: This is usually a once-a-year treat, but dish it out after dinner. Eating sweets shortly after meals helps keep saliva flowing to wash away leftover food.

Sources: MouthHealthy.org (American Dental Association), DeltaDental.com