You’ve probably started your Thanksgiving shopping list already and may even have the ingredients ready to go for the festivities. This is the time of year where we indulge ourselves, eating great food and enjoying the company of loved ones. Unfortunately, this is also the time of year that your teeth pay the consequences for your food and oral hygiene choices.
Our family dentist in Boulder has some tips to help you get through the holiday season with healthy teeth and gums, and if you do fall prey to the sticky, sugary treats, schedule an appointment at Adler Dentistry for a teeth cleaning and dental exam.
1.Brush, Floss, and Rinse Often.
Thanksgiving and other holiday feasts are hard on your teeth but brushing and flossing three times a day during this time can help to eradicate the bacteria that leads to tooth decay. A recent study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that flossing before you brush is the best way to thoroughly remove plaque buildup. Flossing first breaks up the bacteria in between your teeth and on the surface edges, giving your toothbrush the best opportunity to remove residual food particles from your Thanksgiving dinner.
Flossing and brushing consistently this time of year prevents sugar from staying in contact with your teeth throughout the day. While this habit doesn’t remove your risk of gum disease and tooth decay completely, it does keep your teeth clean and reduces wear and tear. Our family dentist recommends brushing 30 minutes after you eat, drinking plenty of water, and chewing on sugar-free gum. If you don’t have floss on hand, look for a toothpick to remove the stickier foods from between your teeth.
2.The Best and Worst Thanksgiving Foods for Your Teeth.
Thanksgiving dinner typically involves turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and many other staples we associate with the holiday. Many of these foods wreak havoc on your oral health, but there are some that actually promote stronger teeth. Some of the best Thanksgiving foods for your mouth include:
- Turkey: This meat is “phosphorus,” meaning it’s required by your body to function normally, and your bones and teeth contain about 85% of your entire body’s phosphorus, which makes this main course a great choice.
- Sweet Potatoes: Whether or not the sweet potatoes served at your Thanksgiving feast are good for you depends entirely on how they’re prepared. Sweet potatoes, on the whole, are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6, which is great for promoting strong, healthy teeth. However, a sweet potato dessert topped with marshmallows and syrup may do more harm than good.
- Vegetables: Snap peas, carrots, green beans, and many other types of vegetables are often served during Thanksgiving to provide a well-rounded meal. Make room for plenty of vegetables on your dinner plate as they’re good for your teeth and gums.
The foods listed above should make up the bulk of your plate. Try to avoid and eat as little as possible of these Thanksgiving sides and desserts:
- Cranberry Sauce: Cranberries as a whole are considered a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and fiber, but cranberry sauce is ridden with extra sugar, making it one of the worst Thanksgiving foods for your teeth. Try fresh cranberry sauce to reduce sugar intake or skip this side altogether.
- Pecan Pie: Pecan, pumpkin, cherry, and apple pies are popular Thanksgiving desserts, and they’re laden with sugar. The longer sugar is on your tooth enamel the more bacteria can build up. If you must have that pecan pie, rinse with water afterward and brush and floss shortly after dinner.
- Soft Drinks: Ideally, you want to avoid soft drinks year-round, but this is a vice many teens and adults struggle to cut out of their diet. It’s important to avoid soda over Thanksgiving and reach for water instead.
As long as you generally avoid sticky, sugary foods and clean your teeth often, you might be able to avoid tooth decay and gum disease. However, that depends on the current state of your oral health.
3.Schedule a Dental Exam and Cleaning Early.
Our general dentistry office in Boulder gets many calls around this time of year to maintain a healthy mouth throughout the holidays. You need to be aware of any dental problems you already have so you don’t exacerbate them by eating those irresistible foods at Thanksgiving. You might have undiagnosed oral health concerns such as gum disease and knowing the current state of your teeth helps you make an educated decision on what goes on your plate and how often you brush and floss.
After your holiday dental exam, schedule a follow-up appointment in early January to take stock of your oral health and address any problems that have come up since your last appointment. Our family dentist can then clean off residual bacteria and plaque that build up over the holiday season.
Schedule your dental exam and cleaning in Boulder today by calling (303) 449-1119. Adler Advanced Dentistry provides general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and TMJ treatment to patients in Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins, Loveland, and nearby areas of Colorado.