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.
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!
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.
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 wWhite 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.
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).
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.
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
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