If you’re like me, you’re shocked that Thanksgiving is next week. Wasn’t Halloween like three days ago? We just got over the sugar-rush in my household, and now The Feast of the year is staring us down. Don’t get me wrong…I love everything Thanksgiving, especially the deliciousness that ensues. But as a member of the dental community, it is my responsibility to examine how all the traditional foods of the holiday might affect oral health. So, without further ado, here’s a look at some of the most common delicacies to be had on Turkey Day in regards to just that, with a big shout-out to the dental professionals over at MouthHealthy.org for first sharing this information.
A Thanksgiving staple, turkey is packed with glorious protein. No problem there! But because it can be a bit difficult to eat, it sometimes gets stuck between teeth. Alas, this is where flossing steps in! This will probably be one of the healthiest things you eat all day, so enjoy!
This tasty turkey accompaniment is naturally tart, so the side dish is often loaded up with sugar or sweeteners to make it more appealing. It can be sticky, acidic and has a nasty habit of staining teeth. While you might be tempted to eat it by the spoonful, these bright berry bits are best consumed as part of your meal, mixed in with other holiday goodies.
There’s no denying that sweet potatoes are packed with Vitamins A and C, which are both great for your gums. But you’re probably not going to be eating them raw or “naked,” so let’s not kid ourselves. Candied yams, you know, the ones with the ooey gooey marshmallows on top, are sticky and sugary, both adjectives typically NOT found in pro-oral health articles. Enjoy in moderation, and be sure to drink plenty of water with your meal to wash away and lingering stuff.
Green Bean Casserole
The components of this dish are healthy when they stand alone….green beans, mushrooms, onions…all healthy vegetables. But when you mix them together and add some “adhesive,” they can get a little sticky. Enjoy this Thanksgiving staple, but keep a toothpick handy.
Macaroni and Cheese
The calcium from the cheese and milk in this delicious side dish are both great for strengthening your teeth. But the fat and carbohydrates that also tag along aren’t so great for your waistline. Recent studies have found a solid connection between obesity and oral disease, making this a dish that should be eaten sensibly. Maybe skip it when you go back for seconds?
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Potatoes are an important source of vitamin C, B6 and potassium, but they’re also starchy. The bacteria that causes cavities loves the sugar that makes up a starch. Again, reach for water in between bites and consume in moderation to minimize harm.
Pumpkin contains Vitamin A, which helps build enamel and keep your gums healthy. But you can’t ignore the added sugar in the pie, nevermind the mountain of whipped topping you might add. Because this is usually a once-a-year treat, go ahead and indulge.
The name of the game is moderation, moderation, moderation. No one expects you to turn down any of the decadent Thanksgiving dishes, but consume responsibly and your mouth will thank you. From all of the dental professionals at Miami Dental Sedation Spa, have a safe, healthy and very happy Thanksgiving!