Making Thanksgiving Healthy for Your Teeth

Thanksgiving is a time when families get together for food and fun–nobody wants to be thinking about their teeth while celebrating. That’s why it’s good to think about it beforehand when you’re planning your menu. Making a few changes to your menu beforehand can really help your family protect their teeth and reduce the risk of an unexpected dental visit before Christmas without having to sacrifice their celebration.

Snacks and Finger Foods

dreamstime_xs_45744954On Thanksgiving everyone arrives hungry, but they often have to wait a little bit before the main meal is ready. Provide them with some tooth-healthy snacks to enjoy before dinner and after when everyone is sitting around enjoying football. Raw vegetables are a great choice. Carrots, broccoli, red peppers, and other raw veggies are nutritious, have great texture, and help clean the teeth.

Resist the temptation to put ranch dressing on the tray. In addition to being fattening, most dressing formulas contain added sugar.

Stick to fresh vegetables. Although pickles are good, they’re also acidic, which means they can contribute to tooth erosion.

For variety, add healthy and delicious black olives. Green olives are pickled and acidic, but black olives are packaged in a neutral brine solution.

Beverage Choices

Another important thing to consider is what everyone’s drinking. Consider banning most soda from your party. All sodas are acidic, some of them capable of causing nearly instant enamel damage. If you do want to add sodas, here is a list of sodas from the least acidic to most acidic:

  • Root beer
  • Lemon-lime sodas
  • Dr. Pepper
  • Colas

All of these are capable of damaging teeth, but colas are more than 40 times more acidic than root beer.

Consider brewing some iced tea and having a pot of coffee on for people to enjoy. Tea is basically the same pH as water, and although coffee is acidic, it’s only 1/10th as acidic as root beer. Don’t buy iced tea beverages, especially those with lemon flavor, as many of these are as acidic as sodas.

For your dinner beverage, consider putting aside the wine, which is acidic–and staining, in the case of red wine. Have beer with dinner, which is generally much less acidic. With craft beers available, you can have something festive and special as well as good for your teeth.

Encourage people to drink water after eating and between other beverages. This not only helps everyone stay hydrated, but helps wash your teeth clean and protects them from damage.

Cut Down on Added Sugar

One of the big dangers of Thanksgiving dinner is all the sugar contained in many recipes. Many people like sweet potatoes with marshmallows all over them. These are sticky, sugary and feed bacteria in your mouth. And they’re unnecessary. Try cooking sweet potatoes without marshmallows, perhaps with just a touch of brown sugar or maple syrup for sweetness. For something a little different, try some spicy sweet potatoes.

Pay attention to added sugar in all recipes and ask whether it’s really necessary, or whether you can do without it. Cutting down on added sugar can also help blunt the blood sugar rush and crash that many experience on turkey day. That way, everyone’s a little less cranky and sleepy, making them better company all day.

Just a few simple changes can make your Thanksgiving healthier, happier, and easier on your teeth.

If you are looking for a Denver dentist who looks out for your dental health all year long, please call 303-759-5652 for an appointment at Park Meadows Dental Care today.