You might think that most of your favorite Thanksgiving foods are bad for your oral health, but you’re in luck this holiday! From turkey to pumpkin pie, we’re going to highlight the Thanksgiving foods that can actually make your teeth happy and strong.
- Sweet Potatoes
- Green Bean Casserole
- Macaroni & Cheese
- Cranberry Sauce
- Pumpkin Pie
Turkey is the star of many Thanksgiving feasts, and for good reason! Turkey is high in protein, which you need to build and repair tissue throughout your body, and also contains B vitamins that help reduce inflammation in your mouth. So help yourself to a hefty portion of turkey. However, because turkey can sometimes be stringy, make sure you floss after you’ve eaten to dislodge any pieces stuck between your teeth.
Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, which helps maintain your saliva flow, and vitamin C, which is essential for keeping your gums healthy and teeth firmly attached. But limit your consumption if these root vegetables are prepared with added sugar. If they are candied or used in a sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and brown sugar, your oral bacteria will feast upon the sugary topping and produce an acid byproduct that will eat away at your tooth enamel. Weakened enamel can lead to sensitive teeth, tooth discoloration, and tooth decay!
Another Thanksgiving staple, green bean casserole is a side dish that you should feel free to gobble up. Between its green beans, mushrooms, and onions, you’ll get a helping of vitamin A, C, D, and K, as well as B vitamins. Vitamin K will help reduce your risk of bleeding gums, and vitamin D allows your body to absorb enamel-strengthening calcium. Just be sure to chew sugar-free gum and floss afterwards because these sticky ingredients can get caught in between your teeth like turkey.
The cheese in macaroni and cheese is wonderful for your teeth because it is high in calcium and phosphorus, which strengthen tooth enamel. But if you are preparing this cheesy creation, consider using whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta. Starchy white pasta is more easily broken down into simple sugar by the bacteria in your mouth, which then produce enamel-damaging acid. If you’re indulging in mac and cheese made without whole wheat pasta, just be sure to take a small portion, to drink plenty of water to wash away the starch, and to floss after you’ve eaten.
In addition to vitamin C and B vitamins, cranberries contain potassium, which helps maintain the optimal mineral content in your bones and teeth. But just be sure to only eat low-sugar homemade cranberry sauce since store bought often has a lot of added sugar.
Pumpkin pie is the classic Thanksgiving dessert. High in vitamin A, vitamin C, and even calcium, pumpkin helps keep your enamel and gums healthy. Try to limit the sugary whipped topping, though.
We hope you enjoy your holiday feast with loved ones. We thank all of our wonderful patients for granting us the privilege of caring for your teeth and gums. If you have any other questions about which Thanksgiving foods are safe for your oral health and which we recommend limiting, or would like to schedule your next dental checkup and cleaning at our office, contact us today.