Thanksgiving is one of the most anticipated holidays. Not only do you get to spend time with friends and family, but you get to eat delicious foods that only come around once a year. Before you dig into your favorite dishes, it’s important to know how these foods affect your teeth. Make sure your teeth are just as grateful as your stomach by the end of your Thanksgiving dinner.
1. The main course is the best course.
When you think of Thanksgiving, do you get an image of Mom presenting a steaming, roasted turkey sitting atop a gigantic platter? Maybe your tradition isn’t that formal, but on Thanksgiving Day, the turkey gets the spotlight and makes your mouth water. The best part is, turkey is filled with protein and is one of the healthiest dishes on the table. This main course gets the green light and the gold star!
2. First, the good news.
You’re not alone if you desire the side dishes more than the main course. And we have good news! Grandma’s award-winning recipes for yam casserole, mac and cheese, and homemade mashed potatoes and gravy are actually good for you—and your teeth. Sweet potatoes promote healthy gums because they are rich in vitamin A and C. The calcium found in your macaroni and cheese helps strengthen your teeth. Potatoes contain necessary vitamins like vitamin C, B6, and potassium. Way to go, side dishes!
3. And now for the bad news.
Unfortunately, your favorite side dishes, while rich in nutrients, can damage your teeth when grandma is finished “sprucing them up.” Yams are good for you...but not when they’re covered with marshmallows. That sticky, sugary topping tends to stay on your teeth longer than other foods. That mac and cheese you’re eyeing largely consists of starchy pasta. Starch is made up of sugar which can damage your teeth and cause decay. In the same manner, the starch found in mashed potatoes attracts cavity-causing bacteria. Watch out for cornbread and stuffing, since they, too, contain large amounts of starch. We’re not saying you have to avoid your favorite sides altogether, just make sure you’re watching your portions.
4. The problem with wine and wine colored things.
Wine and cranberry sauce should be avoided if possible, and consumed in small portions at best. These two Thanksgiving staples are extremely acidic. The acid can dull the enamel on your teeth, causing them to become stained. Instead, you should drink tap water containing fluoride, or green or black tea. Fluoride reverses the damage to your enamel, and tea actually prevents cavities by killing bacteria. Unfortunately, sweet tea doesn’t count, so be sure to check the sugar content in your beverages.
5. The other problem with wine and wine colored things.
The acid in both wine and cranberries can actually soften your enamel, not just stain it. With soft enamel, you are more prone to decay. If you can’t avoid these items altogether, then it’s vital to eat cranberry sauce in between bites of other foods, and rotate a glass of wine with a glass of water.
6. Water needs to become your new Thanksgiving staple.
Water can solve many of your food problems. Water can neutralize the acid and help prevent stains. It will wash away the sugar left behind by starchy sides and sweet desserts. Water will also help you get rid of pesky foods stuck in between your teeth. If you’re going to indulge over Thanksgiving, make sure you sit down with a large glass of water.
7. Two things you can’t forget to bring.
If you’re visiting friends or family on Thanksgiving, be sure to bring a toothbrush and floss along with your pumpkin pie. After your meal, it’s important to brush your teeth in order to protect them from decay. In the event that turkey, dressing, or green bean casserole gets stuck in your teeth, you’ll want to have floss on hand. Brushing and flossing are the best ways to protect your teeth and gums. If you have consumed wine, you need to wait at least thirty minutes before brushing so your enamel is not as soft.
8. Add us to your list.
No, not your guest list. Your holiday to-do list. It’s important to take care of your teeth during a holiday where you consume more sugar and acid than normal. After your food coma has lifted and your family has returned home, schedule an appointment at Anderson & Atkins, DDS. We will give you a cleaning and check your teeth for cavities and any sign of decay. During this season of Thanksgiving, you’ll be thankful you took care of your teeth. And when your teeth survive the season cavity free, they’ll be grateful, too!
Call our office at (979) 846-1813 to make an appointment for your cleaning today.