Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays for a few reasons. You get to spend some fantastic quality time with friends and family and watch the huge and intricate floats during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Plus who can forget the great football games, and of course, the seemingly never-ending flow of food. In a perfect world, we would not have to worry about our teeth while eating our Thanksgiving dinner, but dental health does not take a holiday and you should remain vigilant.
The good news is that there are some foods common to Thanksgiving that are actually great for keeping those chompers healthy and strong.
We have previously discussed how a little milk in your coffee can help protect your teeth from stains. This is due to casein which accounts for roughly 80% of proteins in cows’ milk. Casein coats your teeth in a layer that helps fight stains, so you may want to grab some cheese if you are reaching for the wine.
Garlic has been used in medications since medieval times, and research has shown that garlic extract is actually effective in combating Streptococcus mutans which is an especially nasty form of oral bacteria. The obvious downside is that the amount of garlic needed to make a serious dent in S. mutans will leave your breath pretty ripe.
Who can pass up the turkey? Luckily the protein in turkey is helpful in protecting your teeth from the sugary foods and drinks you’re enjoying alongside. Additionally, the protein contains phosphorus which is essential in building strong teeth and bones.
Unfortunately, not all the food laid out for Thanksgiving is great for your teeth. Here are a few foods you may want to avoid, or at the very least cut back on, this year.
It’s no secret that alcohol isn’t the greatest beverage for your teeth. Most people like to reach for wine to go with the turkey dinner, but it can seriously leech the strength from your teeth due to its high acidity. It’s best to try and limit the amount of wine you drink and consider rinsing your mouth with water afterward. And maybe use a straw for wine, especially red wine.
This may come as no surprise to anyone, but it is best to try and avoid sugary foods, especially those that are easy to snack on such as cookies, during Thanksgiving. Sugar itself isn’t horrible, but it serves as fuel for S. mutans which takes the sugars and turns it into lactic acid leading to tooth decay.
Foods that are high in starch should also be avoided, largely for the same reasons as sugary foods. S. mutans can take the starchy foods and break them down into, you guessed it, sugar.
With all this being said, we don’t want to seem like party poopers. We realize that people are still going to reach for pie and potatoes. The best thing to do is to enjoy everything in moderation, try to avoid snacking all day, and brush your teeth after eating. Your teeth will definitely thank you. If you have any questions about dental health or would like to schedule an appointment at Nicolas A. Ravon, DDS, MSD (310) 275-5325.