It’s officially that time of year when we all eat, drink, and be merry. But, with all the eating, drinking, and merriment going on, it can be hard to prioritize our oral health. Luckily, simple changes in our Thanksgiving Day celebrations can add up to huge improvements in our smiles.
In this post, we discuss ways to have a dental-friendly Thanksgiving in 2022. From smile-enhancing foods to dental aftercare tips, we give you and your loved ones ideas on how to have the healthiest holiday season yet!
Eight Smile-enhancing Foods and Drinks for Thanksgiving
Rather than subtracting foods from your Thanksgiving menu, try adding in smile-friendly foods to your carte du jour. Let’s take a look at eight smile-enhancing foods that you can guiltlessly add to your Thanksgiving Day spread.
Chock full of fiber and essential nutrients, raw vegetables are an ideal appetizer before the main course. Not only will your guests enjoy a healthier alternative, but raw veggies help scrape plaque from the teeth while also encouraging saliva production. Together, these two factors help reduce the number of disease-causing microbes in the mouth.
Nuts and Seeds
Similar to raw vegetables, nuts and seeds help remove plaque while increasing saliva production. Not only that, but nuts and seeds contain enamel-building minerals, like:
Including cheese, yogurt, and milk, dairy products are fantastic foods to foster optimal oral health. These foods often contain the same enamel-building minerals found in nuts and seeds, which helps prevent dental erosion and cavities.
Furthermore, fermented dairy products (like yogurt) are an incredibly tooth-friendly alternative to replace sour cream-based dips, toppings, and desserts. The probiotic properties of plain yogurt help to keep the approximately 700 different kinds of oral bacteria in our mouths balanced in delicate harmony.
We know what you’re thinking–isn’t cranberry sauce too sugary to be healthy for my smile? Well, when it comes to store-bought cranberry sauce, that may be true. However, making your own cranberry sauce from scratch allows you to control the amount of sugar you add to your recipe.
Indeed, homemade cranberry sauce often has approximately half of the calories, carbohydrates, and sugar found in canned cranberry sauces. And with plaque-reducing polyphenols, cranberry sauce is a delicious way to get healthier teeth and arteries.
Although ham is not usually the star of the menu, it may be an ideal addition to your Thanksgiving spread. Ham is high in protein, which helps us feel satisfied longer and prevents us from over indulging in tooth-destroying sweets or snacks.
Additionally, a single serving of ham delivers a whopping 9% of the suggested daily intake of zinc and another 11% of phosphorus. These two essential minerals help strengthen tooth enamel while also encouraging healthy gum tissue.
Of course, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without turkey! And, luckily, there are several smile-friendly benefits of eating this classic holiday favorite.
Similar to ham, turkey is high in protein. But, more than that, turkey contains essential nutrients, like:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
Together, these nutrients help keep teeth strong while keeping the gums and lips supple and healthy.
Indulging in sweets during Thanksgiving is common. But, this year, try choosing sweets that benefit your mouth and body, like homemade pumpkin pie.
Pumpkins contain magnesium, which, when combined with calcium, can strengthen teeth and prevent cavities. Furthermore, pumpkin contains both vitamin A and vitamin C, which keep soft oral tissues healthy and functional.
Want to limit the amount of cavity-causing sugar in your homemade pumpkin pie? Try swapping high-sugar ingredients for healthier alternatives, like:
- Nut flour
- Sugar substitutes, like stevia
- Sugar-free whipped cream
Although this time of year usually brings heavier desserts, your guests may welcome an array of lighter dessert options, like fresh fruit. Not only do fresh fruits reduce the amount of sugar we eat in one sitting, but they also deliver healthy doses of vitamin C, which helps prevent gum disease.
Dental Care Tips for After Your Thanksgiving Feast
Even a dental-friendly Thanksgiving meal can leave behind food debris. And, when food debris accumulates on the teeth and gum line, then oral bacteria can feast and multiply. As a result, you may end up with painful cavities and rapidly-advancing gum disease.
Therefore, it’s still important to brush and floss regularly this holiday season. Here are some helpful tips to keep your smile healthy all year long:
- Brush after snacks and meals: Ideally, we should brush our teeth after every snack, meal, or sugary drink. However, twice-daily brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush and remineralizing toothpaste may be enough to keep your smile free from disease and dysfunction.
- Floss at least once a day: Typically, dentists recommend flossing at least once a day. But, with stringy veggies and meat, you may need to floss more than once on Thanksgiving Day.
- Drink plenty of water and chew sugar-free gum: Sometimes, we don’t have access to a toothbrush or toothpaste immediately after Thanksgiving dinner. So, try chewing sugar-free gum and drinking plenty of water to flush away food debris and bacteria.
Thank Your Smile with a Dental Checkup
This year, celebrate Thanksgiving with smile-friendly foods. But, don’t stop there–keep the celebration going by scheduling a dental checkup and cleaning for you and your loved ones. Because keeping your smile healthy all year long is the gift that just keeps giving!