Thanksgiving is upon us! For many, this holiday is a great time to celebrate with family and friends, and not to mention eating amazing food. I mean, who doesn’t love…

thanksgiving meal recipes
Photo by GeneralMills / CC BY-NC-ND

Protect Your Teeth from Your Turkey Feast

Thanksgiving is upon us! For many, this holiday is a great time to celebrate with family and friends, and not to mention eating amazing food. I mean, who doesn’t love a whole day of snacking, watching sports and spending time with family?

There are, however, some downsides to eating all day. We are going to take a look at how Thanksgiving food can affect your teeth – and how to protect your teeth from your turkey feast (don’t miss our healthy recipes).

1. Foods That Won’t Hurt Your Teeth at Thanksgiving

There are, in fact, some dishes that are beneficial to your teeth at Thanksgiving. Here are some foods that you can freely snack on without damaging those pearly whites:

cranberry sauce thanksgiving

Photo by Emily Carlin / CC-BY-NC-ND

  • Cheese – Cheese is a great source of calcium and nutrients that help prevent cavities.
  • Cranberries – Recent research has shown that the minerals in cranberries actually fight tooth decay. Just remember not to eat too many, otherwise you’d be dealing with stained teeth.
  • Fresh Pear – Did you know that pears can actually neutralize acids in the mouth? For a light side dish, or a small dessert, try some sliced pear.
  • Nuts – Not only are nuts filled with minerals that strengthen teeth, but they also produce a lot of saliva, which is great for keeping your mouth healthy.
  • Pumpkin – This traditional Thanksgiving staple is actually great for your teeth! It contains vitamins that build tooth enamel, as well as potassium. Even the seeds are a great source of nutrition!
  • Raw Veggies – Chomping on raw vegetables will do two things: One, it will increase saliva production which, as we mentioned, is great for your mouth. And two, eating stringy vegetables such as celery will act as a sort of “floss” and clean between your teeth. (It’s still a good idea to use dental floss afterward, though.)
  • Turkey – While some say that turkey isn’t good for staying awake, it certainly is good for your teeth! The protein and phosphorus contained in turkey combine with calcium, which produces vitamin D. This vitamin helps strengthen bones – including your teeth.
  • Water – Keeping a constant intake of water is a great idea on Thanksgiving. Not only could it prevent you from overeating, but it also helps rinse out your mouth and avoid getting a stained smile.
  • Yogurt – If you’re looking for a tooth-friendly dessert this Thanksgiving, yogurt is calling your name! All dairy products contain calcium, which is great for remineralizing your teeth. (P.S. Make sure it’s Greek and doesn’t contain a lot of sugar.)

2. Foods to Try to Avoid on Thanksgiving

Yes, it’s time we introduce the suspicious characters at the dinner table (besides your in-laws). Here are the foods that you will probably want to avoid eating if you value your smile (or at least take steps to protect your smile after consuming one of these items):

  • Dried Fruit, Pies and Other Desserts. While a lot of the Thanksgiving desserts fit into the “carb” category, they also fit into another place: sugary foods. We hate to break it to you, but your favorite pecan pie is a source of tooth decay. Dried fruit is also something you want to stay away from, as it has a high sugar concentrate and sticks to your teeth. To protect your teeth after consuming one of these desserts, rinse your mouth with water afterward (don’t brush your teeth for at least one hour or you’ll brush the sugars into your teeth more).
  • Coffee, Tea and Wine. These drinks can cause a great deal of staining. To avoid darkening your teeth, eat some cheese before drinking your coffee, tea or wine and rinse your mouth with water afterward.
  • Soda, Alcohol and Other Acidic Foods. Besides these beverages, highly-acidic foods can include some breads and sugars. Acid in the mouth can quickly begin to decay your teeth, causing cavities and much worse dental problems if not dealt with. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water during the day before consuming anything acidic, and then some afterward.
  • Stuffing, Sweet Potatoes and Other High-Carb Foods. As you may have learned in this blog post, carbs actually pose a large threat to your teeth. Here’s why: the minerals in your mouth break down carbohydrates into simple sugars, which feed harmful bacteria. In this food chain, the bacterium produces acids that cause tooth decay. And trust us, tooth decay won’t look good when it’s time to take those Christmas pictures. Remember to drink lots of water throughout the day and then rinse your mouth with water after consuming one of these dishes.

Can’t stay away from these delicious dishes? Offer to make a dessert, stuffing or sweet potatoes using these Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes to cut down on the amount of sugar contained in each one.

3. Ways to Protect Your Teeth on Thanksgiving

Before you head off to make the grocery list, keep in mind a few more pieces of advice:

  • Avoid Grazing – One of the best ways to keep your teeth clean this Thanksgiving is to avoid constant munching throughout the day. If food is always stuck on your teeth, you’ll probably have to pay a visit to the dentist soon afterward.
  • Carry a Toothbrush – Especially if you’re traveling for Thanksgiving, it’s a great idea to keep your toothbrush close. Remember to brush your teeth after you eat and at the end of the day.
  • Get Family Involved – Everything is more fun when you have a teammate! See if your family members will pursue dental health with you during the holidays and keep each other accountable.
  • Say No to Your Sweet Tooth – Yes, we totally get it. With all of the desserts and candies, it can be so hard to not give in. And we don’t want to banish sugar completely, but be sure to keep tabs on where a good limit is.

There is definitely a lot to give thanks for this holiday season, starting with tasty food! We hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving week – and that you will heed our advice for a great meal as well as great dental health.

Best Healthful Foods to Eat at Thanksgiving

  • Cheese
  • Cranberries
  • Fresh Pear
  • Nuts
  • Pumpkin
  • Raw Veggies
  • Turkey
  • Water
  • Yogurt

Harmful Foods to Eat at Thanksgiving 

These foods could be harmful to your dental health. If you can’t avoid them (or they’re some of your favorites!), take steps to protect your teeth after consuming, as explained in our article.

  • Dried Fruit, Pies and Other Desserts
  • Coffee, Tea and Wine
  • Soda, Alcohol and Other Acidic Foods
  • Stuffing, Sweet Potatoes and Other High-Carb Foods

Katie is 1Dental’s copywriter and social media marketer. She aims to promote dental health through new blog posts heavily researched and sourced by topic and social media updates and outreach. Katie has completed her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies. You’ll find her posting regularly on 1Dental’s social pages: Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest.

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