It is hard to believe that a year has passed since we posted our last Thanksgiving blog. Last year, I listed four types of food you should avoid to keep up your dental health at Thanksgiving. They were carbonated and sugary drinks, sticky treats, all-day munching, and overdoing the cranberry sauce.
My goal was to make everyone a bit more aware of how all that holiday eating can gang up on you and put your dental health at greater risk. There’s nothing I enjoy more than doing a routine dental exam and seeing my patients’ pearly whites are healthy and seated in solid, pocket-free gum tissue.
So, this Thanksgiving, let’s accentuate the positive. You are on the front lines of the battle, and eating wisely is your first line of defense. Let’s explore some foods to add to your Thanksgiving feast that will promote your dental health.
The following are my 5 favorite choices to augment your Thanksgiving meal:
1. Cheese for snacks
Eating cheese lowers your risk for tooth decay. When you chew cheese you increase the amount of saliva and raise the acidity (pH) in your mouth to fight off decay. Cheese has calcium and protein, both of which help strengthen your tooth enamel.
2. Leafy greens for salads
Leafy greens such as kale and spinach are high in calcium, have B vitamins, and they promote oral health. Use spinach as a substitute for lettuce in your holiday salad and enjoy the extra benefits of essential vitamins, nutrients, protein, and fiber.
3. Add a dash of almonds to your salad
Another great source of calcium, almonds are high in protein and low in sugar. Add almonds to your regular diet, but don’t overdo it; they are high in calories. Just a handful of sliced almonds makes a great lunch snack or crunchy addition to that next stir-fry dinner.
4. Eat yogurt for dessert
Yogurt has the double whammy of calcium and protein coupled with beneficial bacteria that benefit the gums. The good bacteria in yogurt chase away the bacteria that cause cavities. Go for the plain, sugarless variety of yogurt.
5. Cleanse your pallet with apples, carrots, or celery
Apples are the exception to the types of sweet foods the ADA recommends you avoid. Apples are sweet, but they are high in fiber and water. A slice of apple produces saliva in the mouth and rinses away the food particles. Apples have fiber and they stimulate the gums.
Carrots are also full of fiber. A handful of raw carrots after a meal also increases saliva production and lowers your risk of cavities. Add some carrot slices to your salad as well.
Celery is one of nature’s natural toothbrushes. It has vitamins A and C, two antioxidants for healthy gums. Yes, celery is watery and stringy, but add a dollop of cream cheese, and it’s a great dessert.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving, everyone. It’s a time for family and giving thanks for all the blessings we enjoy.