When you think about holiday foods, it’s common for unhealthy dishes to come to mind: Thanksgiving pies, fluffy rolls, ice cream, chips and dip, chocolate, and more. These foods can be a fun part of the holiday tradition. But just because you are indulging as part of the celebration, doesn’t mean that your health needs to suffer. Consider adding a few foods that are good for the teeth and overall health as well.
In fact, there are popular holiday dishes that can support your dental health and provide the nutrients your body needs. Here are a few options to consider this holiday season if you are looking for ingredients that are good for the teeth.
A big turkey is the center of a Thanksgiving feast! This lean meat is loaded with protein, which is essential for many health functions within the body.
Additionally, turkey doesn’t have starch or sugars. If you want to protect your teeth, then it’s important to minimize the consumption of anything starchy or sugary.
Also known as yams, sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants. You can find antioxidant-rich foods by looking for fruits and vegetables that are bright in color. The orange coloring of sweet potatoes offers vitamins C and A, which are both helpful for dental health.
For example, the American Dental Association has stated that vitamin C is important to strengthen soft tissues (such as your gums) within the mouth. Additionally, vitamin C can have a positive impact on immune function, which can be beneficial in protecting against early stages of gum disease (gingivitis).
Instead of making candied yams, consider lightly flavored yams as a side dish for your Thanksgiving feast. These root vegetables are packed with flavor, so everyone can enjoy them without loading the dish up with marshmallows on top.
Is it Thanksgiving if you don’t have green bean casserole? Not only is this baked dish a fun part of the tradition, but green beans are also good for the teeth. These veggies offer a tasty source of vitamins C, K, and A, as well as fiber and folic acid.
Plus, the mushrooms in the casserole are beneficial for dental health because they have a variety of B vitamins such as B2 (riboflavin), B9 (folate), B1 (thiamine), and B5 (pantothenic acid). B vitamins can have a positive impact to reduce inflammation, including inflammation in the gums.
Even though pie has a high sugar content to sweeten the dessert, the pumpkin within the pie can bring health benefits because of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Similar to sweet potatoes, pumpkin is high in antioxidants such as vitamin A.
The cheesy dishes and mashed potatoes have one important ingredient that is good for the teeth: dairy! When milk or cheese is added to a side dish, it is a great source of calcium. It’s important to include calcium in your diet because it helps to strengthen bones and teeth. Plus, dairy ingredients are low in sugar and acid, which are things that you should be avoiding to protect your dental health.
Other Tips to Protect Your Smile During the Holidays
You want to enjoy the holiday season and eat your favorite foods. Rest assured knowing that one indulgent meal isn’t going to be the cause of serious dental issues. It’s more important to look at your overall, ongoing dental habits if you are looking for solutions to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Here are a few habits that are good for the teeth. Not only can you implement these habits during Thanksgiving, but they are also good practices that you can use all year long:
- Drink Water: Water is a great way to rinse out your mouth after a meal if you don’t have time to brush. Plus, drinking water before a meal can improve satiety and reduce the risk of overeating. Staying hydrated is important to promote saliva flow, which also helps with cavity prevention. When you are choosing a drink with your Thanksgiving meal, pick water instead of soda or alcohol.
- Brush and Floss: Regular brushing and flossing is the foundation to a healthy smile. In addition to these daily habits, also consider a few extra dental cleaning sessions. For example, take a few minutes to brush your teeth after eating Thanksgiving dinner and finishing your pie. Brushing will scrub away the sugars and starches that feed cavity-causing bacteria. If you decide to eat sugary or starchy foods, then brushing your teeth right after the meal is the best solution to prevent decay.
- Shorten Eating Time: Do you feel like you are eating all day long on Thanksgiving? In addition to the main meal, there are also plenty of appetizers and snacks being served throughout the day. The problem with eating all day long is that it keeps your teeth exposed to sugar and starches, which increases the risk of decay and gum disease. A better solution is to choose specific times of the day for meals and snacking, then stop eating between meals.
Don’t Forget to Schedule a Dental Appointment
Even though the holiday season is a busy time of year, it’s important that you are proactive about maintaining regular dental appointments. A dental cleaning and exam are great to keep your teeth healthy and catch potential dental issues in the earliest stages.
Plus, many people have dental insurance benefits to use before the end of the year. Maximizing your insurance coverage helps to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses. If you haven’t used both of your dental cleanings this year, then make sure to fit the appointment in before the end of the year.
Our team at Cosmetic & Family Dentistry of Las Colinas is here to help you maintain a healthy smile all year long. We invite you to contact us anytime if you have questions about your dental health. We offer general dentistry, as well as cosmetic treatments, preventive services, and more. Our goal is to provide every family a convenient location for full-service dental care.