Best and worst Thanksgiving foods for your teeth

Thanksgiving foods your teeth will love

We get it: the holidays can be stressful. We’re here to guide you through the food choices that will make your dentist proud.

Thanksgiving is all about connecting with family and friends, expressing gratitude, and of course enjoying a holiday feast. We’re not here to deprive you of a great meal—pie? yes, please—but just to coach you on which foods are a bit more tooth-friendly.

Sure, it’s delicious, but did you know these foods are also great for your teeth?

Turkey: It’s a lean protein with a significant amount of Vitamin D, which is a great booster of tooth enamel strength that protects teeth from cavities and wear and tear. So gobble up and help yourself to extra helpings.

Veggies: Cruciferous veggies such as broccoli and cauliflower and great for your teeth, as are sweet potatoes (aside from the syrup or marshmallows, of course, that make casseroles less dentist-approved!). If you’re vegetarian or vegan, feel free to load up on lots of healthy side dishes, along with raw vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, and celery. Simply chewing veggies will aid saliva production, which helps get rid of the harmful bacteria in your mouth.

Cheese, nuts, and fresh fruit: Bring out the cheeseboard. Cheese is loaded with protein and calcium, both of which promote strong, healthy teeth and help neutralize plaque acid. Chewing nuts produces more saliva, which similarly lowers the pH in your mouth. And crisp, fresh fruit, such as apples, help clean plaque from teeth and freshen your breath. Other fibrous fruits, like oranges, stimulate your gums and increase saliva production, while berries are full of antioxidants that help protect against gum disease.

Give yourself a break on the big day.

There’s enough to deal with on Thanksgiving, so oral bacteria is pretty much the last thing you should be thinking about. But it won’t come as any surprise that sugary foods—pie, cookies, and so on, as well as sugary drinks such as soda and wine—are like supervillains to your teeth, helping bacteria thrive in your mouth and contributing to tooth decay over time. Want that cranberry sauce? Go for it, but consider making it with fresh cranberries rather than canned. Fresh cranberries are full of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and potassium—and best of all, you can control the amount of sugar you use.

As for dessert, we’d be the last ones to deny you Thanksgiving staples like apple pie and pecan pie, not to mention cakes, cookies, brownies, and ice cream. We love it all. All of these treats are mortal enemies to your teeth, encouraging bad bacteria that will erode tooth enamel over time. Alcohol too can cause tooth discoloration, staining, and dry mouth, which leads to plaque buildup and more. So the best way to indulge at holiday time, without impacting your oral health, is simply brushing your teeth as soon as you can after the meal, or at least brushing the full two minutes at bedtime and flossing extra well that night.

Happy Thanksgiving, happy teeth

At Tend, our philosophy is all about enjoying yourself. There’s no need to avoid all the delicious foods at your holiday dinner table. (And let’s face it: resistance is futile.) If possible, try to slip away from the table to brush your teeth and floss about 30 minutes after you’ve eaten, which reduces the amount of time that food lingers on (or between) your teeth. But if you can’t, no worries.

Bonus points if you can stash a small toothbrush and mini toothpaste in a bag or purse to freshen up quickly post-mealtime. Easy pro tip: Just chew sugarless gum to boost saliva and help flush out food debris. Chewing gum isn’t as thorough as brushing, but it’ll get the job done until then.

Also, remember to drink lots of water throughout your meal, which neutralizes acids from bacteria, helps restore minerals to enamel, and rinses away food particles in your mouth. Water is nature’s best mouth cleaner, and staying hydrated helps prevent gingivitis, too.

If you experience any staining or tooth pain after the holiday meal, just book an appointment and come see us. We’re always here to help.

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