Thanksgiving Dinner and Your Teeth
Our professional team at Barbara Bell DDS, PA wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. Is your Thanksgiving feast good for your teeth? Read on to find out how our traditional foods stack up.
The Good: This main course is packed with protein and boasts high-quality protein, B vitamins, selenium, zinc, and phosphorus. It may support various aspects of health, including muscle growth and maintenance, due to its rich supply of nutrients. However, it’s best to avoid processed varieties, as these are high in salt. The Bad: Turkey can be difficult to eat because it sometimes gets stuck between your teeth. That’s where flossing can help. The MouthHealthy: It’s the star of the Thanksgiving table. Gobble it up!
The Good: It’s a tasty Thanksgiving tradition. A 1/2 cup of cranberry sauce contains 1g of fiber. Increasing your fiber intake helps relieve constipation and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The Bad: Cranberries are naturally tart, so sugar or sugar substitutes are often added to recipes. This side dish can be sticky, acidic and may temporarily stain your teeth. The MouthHealthy: Don’t eat this alone. The sugar content, stickiness, tendency for the little berries to get stuck between your teeth and acidity make it one of those foods that needs to be eaten with a meal.
The Good: Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamins A and C, which help keep your gums healthy. They can also be prepared in many ways. They’re a great source of fiber, potassium, manganese, copper, and antioxidants. Yams are linked to various health benefits and may boost brain health, reduce inflammation, and improve blood sugar control. The Bad: Candied yam recipes call for marshmallows. Sticky foods can damage your teeth since they tend to stay on your teeth longer than other types of food. The MouthHealthy: If candied, enjoy in moderation and drink plenty of water with your meal to help wash away any leftover food.
Green Bean Casserole
The Good: Green beans are healthy, mushrooms are healthy, onions are healthy. The Bad: Because most recipes use canned soup and fried onions, the majority of the recipe comes from overly processed foods that are high in sodium and fat. The traditional green bean casserole recipe has a total of 7 grams of fat, 2 of which are saturated and 1.5 of which is trans fat. Not good, however it’s pretty easy to make a healthier green bean casserole! First, use fresh veggies that are not overcooked. Second, opt for organic or all-natural brands of soup and fried onions to keep some of the processed ingredients out. Third, swap out the whole milk or cream for skim milk. The MouthHealthy: Dig in! But you may want to keep a floss pick handy. This is good stuff.
Macaroni and Cheese
The Good: Say cheese! Many recipes call for cheese and milk. The calcium from these ingredients helps strengthen teeth. The Bad: Good cheese can be gooey. White pastas are also starchy and can leave sugar behind on your teeth. One of the easiest ways to cut some of the fat and calories in your macaroni and cheese is to replace any of the cream or whole milk in the cheese sauce recipe with skim milk. You can also replace some of the butter with olive oil for a healthier type of fat. The MouthHealthy: As with many feast-worthy foods, eat a sensible portion and break out your brush and floss later.
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
The Good: Potatoes are an important dietary source of vitamin C, B6 and potassium. Mashed potatoes can certainly contribute to a healthy diet and offer some nutritional advantages, but you should follow healthy preparation methods to avoid consuming too much saturated fat. The Bad: Potatoes are starchy, and cavity-causing bacteria loves the sugar that makes up starch. The MouthHealthy: If covered with gravy, the health benefits of the overall dish are diminished to some extent, but this is a holiday and only comes once a year. Start your diet on Black Friday.
The Good: Pumpkin has Vitamin A, which helps keep your gums healthy and builds the hard outer shell of your teeth (enamel). Pumpkin filling also has potassium, vitamin C and iron, which will all boost your mood. The Bad: There’s the added sugar in the pie itself and whatever whipped topping you put on top. The MouthHealthy: This is usually a once-a-year treat, but dish it out after dinner. Eating sweets shortly after meals helps keep saliva flowing to wash away leftover food.