Thanksgiving dinner is a tasty occasion full of crowd-pleasing fare such as turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole. While these all certainly make for a delicious spread, some recipes for these cuisines can also be recipes for dental disaster. Oftentimes, Thanksgiving foods are high in sugars and starches that can provide a feast for the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. Here are a few tips from your dentist that can help keep your Thanksgiving dinner from causing cavities in the smiles of your friends and family.
Sugary Sweets Can Hurt Your Teeth
Some Thanksgiving dishes are a delight for the sweet tooth. Marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, and pies of the pumpkin, apple, and pecan varieties are traditionally served with the Thanksgiving feast. Unfortunately, all of these are full of sugar and quite sticky. This means that when they get stuck in your teeth, they can serve as a smorgasbord and a breeding ground for the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease.
You might want to try an alternative dessert such as fruits dipped in dark chocolate or even using alternative sweeteners when preparing these dishes. Otherwise, limit your portions of these foods and be sure to wash them down with a tall glass of water.
Too Much Starch Can Lead to Tooth Decay
Some of the savory side dishes common on the Thanksgiving table can be risky for your dental health as well. While mashed potatoes and stuffing aren’t known for being particularly sweet, the starches they contain can break down into simpler sugars that feed harmful oral bacteria. Be sure to drink plenty of water when enjoying these items and mix them up with plenty of foods that are high in protein and fiber.
The Good News Is That Some Thanksgiving Foods Are Good for Your Teeth
The centerpiece of the traditional Thanksgiving spread has always been the turkey. Thankfully, turkey is full of the protein and vitamins teeth need to stay healthy and strong. The roasted veggies that accompany this tasty bird are also friends of teeth everywhere. Red and orange vegetables like carrots, celery, radishes, and the like are often high in vitamin C while the leafy green sorts are full of the calcium your teeth need to be strong.
Your family deserves a tasty Thanksgiving feast this year, but it’s important to keep everyone’s oral health in mind. By limiting your intake of sugars and starches while filling up with protein and fiber, you can make the feast delicious and beneficial for the well-being of your teeth. Remember to drink plenty of water to keep the feast flowing smoothly and your teeth will be as happy as your belly.
About the Practice
Dr. Danny Hayes earned his dental degree from the Temple University School of Dentistry in Philadelphia, where he was an active member of the American Student Dental Association and the Stomatognathic Honor Society. He serves as a member of the American Dental Association, the Chicago Dental Society, and the Indiana Dental Association. His office in Crown Point, IN offers preventive, restorative, cosmetic, and emergency dentistry. For more information on keeping Thanksgiving healthy for your family’s teeth, contact the office online or dial (219) 663-6878.