Thanksgiving is a holiday centered around gratitude, family, and most notably, food. According to research from the U.S Department of Agriculture, Americans spent nearly $2.4 billion on Thanksgiving dinner alone back in 2014.
From the turkey to the stuffing and gravy, this holiday is infamous for its range of traditional Thanksgiving foods. However, it’s important to remember that indulging in these foods won’t just have an effect on your waistline. Many of our Amherst patients are surprised to find out how their dietary choices can also have an impact on their dental health.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we encourage you to show gratitude for your smile by being selective with your food choices this holiday.
Dental-Friendly Thanksgiving Foods
Making simple changes to your Thanksgiving meal can help protect your smile and minimize your risk for tooth decay or gum disease. Some of the best foods to opt for include:
Swap Out Crackers and Other Snacks For Veggies: Since preparing Thanksgiving dinner is such a long process, most people will snack on crackers or candied nuts throughout the day. Unfortunately, these snacks contain starch, which breaks down into simple sugars. Bacteria in the mouth will then use these sugars as fuel to cause damage to your teeth and gums. Swap out your starchy snacks for a veggie tray to help avoid this dental risk.
Skip Wine and Choose Water: Drinking a glass of wine while eating Thanksgiving can be especially dangerous for your smile. Wine and other alcoholic beverages dry out the mouth, limiting saliva production. Since saliva is so important for washing away food debris and neutralizing acids in the mouth, you’re leaving your teeth vulnerable to decay by drying out the mouth with alcohol. Instead, we encourage you to drink a glass of water with your dinner. Water helps to wash away bacteria and food particles in addition to promoting saliva production.
Use Xylitol Instead of Traditional Sugar: When you’re preparing your Thanksgiving dishes and desserts, chances are that you’ll use sugar. Of course, it’s no secret that sugar is harmful to the health of your smile. To get around this problem, consider choosing a sweetener like xylitol. This natural sweetener doesn’t cause tooth decay and can actually make it more difficult for bacteria to adhere to the teeth.
Avoid Cranberry Sauce: Cranberry sauce is considered a Thanksgiving staple and is a favorite for many people. Cranberries alone are rich in vitamins and minerals that can actually benefit health. However, most cranberry sauces have a ton of added sugar. The high sugar content in combination with the acidity of cranberries can mean serious trouble for your teeth.
Choose Regular Yams Instead of Candied Yams: Yams are rich in nutrients and can be enjoyed in numerous ways. To truly take advantage of this nutrient-rich root, we recommend enjoying it baked or roasted by itself instead of using candied yam recipes. Candied yams contain marshmallows, which can actually negate any health benefits.
Other Dental Tips for Thanksgiving
In addition to avoiding certain foods, there are other steps you can take to protect the health of your smile. Other great ways to maintain great dental health this Thanksgiving include:
Avoid Eating for a Long Period of Time: Each time you consume foods or beverages, the pH balance in your mouth is altered. Eating and drinking for a long period of time will constantly leave your teeth vulnerable to acid attacks. To avoid prolonging damage to your teeth, try to eat your Thanksgiving meal in an allotted amount of time.
Brush and Floss: This may be a given, but it’s important to thoroughly brush and floss after your Thanksgiving meal. Leftover food particles could irritate the gum tissue and fuel bacteria in the mouth.
Visit Your Dentist After the Holidays: The holidays are known as a time to enjoy sweets and festive treats. While this is a great way to get in the spirit of the holidays, it can do quite a bit of damage to your smile. Remember to schedule a routine appointment after the holidays to ensure you have a healthy smile going into the new year.
Contact Amherst Village Dental
We’re thankful for our wonderful patients here in Amherst and are dedicated to providing only the highest quality care. We offer a variety of dental services ranging from a routine cleaning to full-mouth reconstruction. To find out how we can help your smile, contact our office today and schedule your next appointment with Dr. Bernard Ang.