The holiday season can be a busy and sometimes frustrating time of year, but there’s nothing like sitting down to a delicious holiday meal with loved ones to remind you of how much you have to be thankful for. The familiar food is one of the best things about the holiday season. But what is that Thanksgiving dinner doing to your smile? Unfortunately, some of the things that you’ll find at your holiday feast aren’t great for your teeth. Take a look at some holiday foods you should skip or eat in moderation, and find out what to make instead.
You probably know that stuffing isn’t great for your waistline, but many people don’t suspect that it could be bad for their teeth. The problem with stuffing is that it’s bread-based. When you eat bread, the saliva in your mouth turns the bread into a gummy, paste-like substance that coats your teeth and doesn’t come off easily. As the bread breaks down further, the starches are converted to sugars that feed cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth.
Consider replacing stuffing with a savory side dish, like mushroom and eggplant casserole. You can also replace it with quinoa, which is full of tooth-strengthening minerals like calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphate. Prepare the quinoa in cooking broth from your turkey to give it that holiday flavor. If you can’t do without stuffing, consider replacing white bread cubes with whole grain bread – whole grains don’t break down as easily and are less likely to damage your teeth.
Canned Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is a holiday favorite for a good reason. It’s sweet, tart, a great complement to turkey, and its bright red color fits in with the holiday theme. You can even save time by buying conveniently prepared sauce in a can.
Unfortunately, canned cranberry sauce is packed with sugar, and has very few of the healthy nutrients that make fresh cranberries a superfood. Your best bet is to skip the canned stuff and find a simple recipe using fresh cranberries. That way, you can measure the sugar yourself and keep it to a minimum, and the dietary fiber that you’ll get from the fresh berries may actually help reduce tooth decay.
Candy canes serve a dual purpose. Not only are they a sweet treat to munch on after a meal, they also make great Christmas tree decorations. But it’s important not to underestimate the toll that these striped sweets can take on your teeth.
Candy canes have at least three strikes against them. They’re full of sugar, they’re sticky (so the sugar stays on your teeth longer), and on top of that, they’re hard enough to chip a tooth or damage your dental work with an unlucky bite.
If you still want to decorate with candy canes, that’s fine, but you may want to avoid eating them. However, a dish of sugar-free peppermint gum can make a great after-dinner offering. The peppermint helps soothe overfull stomachs, the chewing stimulates saliva production, which can help wash bacteria and food particles off of your teeth, and you can still enjoy the same sweet taste.
If it’s been more than six months since your last dental exam, protect your teeth by scheduling your next checkup before we head into 2018!