Most of us look forward to Thanksgiving, a day when we can spend quality time with our family and friends and enjoy some of our favorite holiday dishes. Unfortunately, not all of those Thanksgiving favorites are healthy for our teeth and gums. But here’s the good news: you can plan a holiday meal that’s not only delicious and satisfying, but good for your oral health at the same time. Here are some tips on how to do just that.
- Appetizers: It’s actually easy to plan a selection of appetizers that are tooth-friendly. In fact, you may be surprised at the variety of pre-meal snacks that are actually good for your teeth and gums. Cheese is an excellent choice, not only for its calcium but also for the casein found in milk products – both of which help to prevent cavities and strengthen teeth. Nuts are another great choice. Crunchy foods encourage the production of saliva, which helps to fight against tooth decay. And nuts contain a variety of minerals and calcium, all of which benefit your oral health. Include a variety of raw vegetables on your appetizer tray as well – they help to clean teeth and boost saliva production, which washes away bad bacteria inside the mouth.
- Main dish: As it turns out, the traditional Thanksgiving turkey is one of the healthiest dishes on any holiday table. Not only is turkey a relatively low-fat source of protein that helps to strengthen teeth; it also contains both iron and zinc that help to guard your gums and teeth against bad bacteria. The B vitamins in turkey aid in repairing gum tissue damaged by periodontal disease, and the phosphorous in your Thanksgiving main dish helps to maximize the positive effects of calcium in your system.
- Side dishes: Similar to appetizers, there are several tooth-healthy side dishes to choose from. Try green beans sautéed in sesame oil, which helps in reducing plaque buildup and fights against gum disease. Sweet potatoes or yams are another good choice. Both of these root vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals that benefit your teeth and gums. But skip the high-sugar marshmallows and simply bake these naturally sweet vegetables for a healthier version. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how sweet they are even without all the added sugar!
- Dessert: You can still enjoy a festive pumpkin dessert this Thanksgiving, but instead of choosing one that’s high in sugar, try any of the many sugar-free pumpkin custard recipes you can find online. Pumpkin is high in zinc, magnesium, Vitamin A and Vitamin C, all of which protect your teeth and support healthy gums.
A tooth-healthy Thanksgiving dinner is easier than you may think! This year, enjoy the holiday AND good oral health at the same time with these delicious alternatives to traditional Thanksgiving dishes.