Thanksgiving dinner is an all-day event at many homes, with the “main meal” in midafternoon followed by “grazing” the rest of the day and evening. Much of what you consume that day isn’t all that healthy for your oral health. But these seven tips on making smart choices on what you eat – or serve – will help your teeth and gums stay happy and healthy this Thanksgiving.
Sugar? Reduce It!
From sweet potatoes covered in a marshmallow topping to pumpkin pie loaded with whipped cream, Thanksgiving can be a sugary delight for those with a sweet tooth. But remember when you are loading up your plate that bacteria love feeding on sugar and creating cavities. If you are hosting Thanksgiving, switch from using sugar to xylitol or erythritol. Both sweeteners don’t cause cavities. And don’t forget to reduce your portions and drink plenty of water to wash the sugar out of your mouth.
Beware the Starches
Cornbread and stuffing are also loved by bacteria that produce acids that lead to cavities. The starches convert to sugar when you eat them, and that’s what the bacteria feed upon. Reduce your portions of starches this Thanksgiving – swap them for more protein and vegies – and drink lots of water.
Bright Colors Equal Stained Teeth
If you like foods and drinks that are brightly colored, just remember that they can lead to dull-looking enamel on your teeth. So if you consume lots of red wine, cranberry sauce, cherry or blueberry pie, and coffee, your odds of stained enamel will rise. Reduce or skip those bright foods this year, drink lots of water, and schedule one of your two annual dental hygiene visits for the week after Thanksgiving!
Acidic Foods and Drinks Are Tough On Enamel
The enamel on your teeth does not like acid because it softens it, giving bacteria a better chance of causing cavities. Major culprits are wine and cranberry juice because of their high acidity. Reduce the impact of the acid with sips of water and bites of non-acidic foods. Be sure you don’t brush for at least 30 minutes after eating highly acidic foods because your toothbrush bristles can damage your softened enamel.
Fill Your Plate with a Rainbow
Be sure to fill your plate with an array of vegetable that are brimming with vitamins and minerals. You’ll get lots of Vitamin C from red and orange vegetables and tons of calcium from leafy green vegetables. Vitamin C helps your gums and calcium creates strong teeth. Plus,chewing raw vegetables produces lots of saliva to wash away bacteria. The fibrous strands of celery are particularly good for dental health because they help clean between teeth.
Go Nuts This Year
Nuts contain calcium and minerals that strengthen and remineralize teeth. The chewing of hard, crunchy nuts also produces extra saliva, which fights germs and prevents decay.
And Don’t Forget the Water – And Tea
Tap water contains fluoride which reverses damage to enamel caused by acids. Green and black tea kill bacteria, thus fighting cavities. Make the tea with tap water and you reap a double benefit. Plus, water and tea give you a chance to wash away the acids created by sugary and starchy foods.
Sources: MouthHealthy.org (American Dental Association), DeltaDental.com, Colgate.com