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A Healthy Thanksgiving Feast (for Your Teeth) 

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Your oral health probably isn’t the first thing on your mind when it comes to Thanksgiving. And, yes, you should indulge a bit – it’s Thanksgiving! But you may want to make sure that most of your feast is delicious, healthy food. The good news is that’s not hard, since many traditional T-day dishes are good for your smile and overall health.   

Healthy or not? How the Thanksgiving menu breaks down  


This lean protein is great at supporting overall health. It also has plenty of phosphorus, which supports strong dental enamel and bones.  


As we all know, veggies are super healthy, containing many vitamins and minerals. The crunchy ones, such as carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and cucumbers, can help clean your teeth. And if you feel the need to add butter or creamy sauces, try a drizzle of olive oil instead, which is rich in inflammation-fighting oleic acid that can boost the health benefits.  

Cranberry sauce   

Cranberries are acidic, which can weaken dental enamel, making this dish a little problematic for your teeth. And if you add sugar, you have a perfect recipe for dental decay. Yikes! So, if you choose to eat cranberry sauce with your meal, rinse with plain water right after eating.  

Sweet potatoes   

These contain potassium which builds bone mineral density. Sweet potatoes also have plenty of Vitamin A and C! But if you start adding stuff like marshmallows to the dish, it becomes a nightmare for your dental health. So do keep the sweet potatoes plain or indulge just a bit and rinse right after.  


If you’re centered on using white bread to make stuffing, remember that simple carbs break down to sugar, and oral bacteria thrive on sugar. You may want to google healthier options, like stuffing/dressing made with whole grains. But honestly, if you have a recipe you love and don’t want to break with tradition, make it and enjoy!  

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy   

This classic provides vitamin C, B6, and potassium, but (see stuffing, above) simple carbs are not friends with your teeth. And the gravy? Unlikely to be a healthy food, but it’s a holiday, so treat yourself. Just be sure to brush your teeth afterward.  


Of course, salad is amazingly good for you overall. One of the many benefits of leafy greens is an abundance of vitamin K, which is hugely helpful in supporting dental health by building strong bones. Vitamin K also boost your body’s healing abilities. Besides greens, vitamin K can be found in broccoli and Brussels sprouts.  


Whether you have it for an appetizer or later in the meal, is a wonderful treat for your teeth. The calcium in cheese and other dairy products helps keep bones and dental enamel strong. Cheese also contains phosphorus which supports calcium’s efforts in building strong bones and teeth.  


Ready for some great news? Apples, strawberries, and kiwis actually scrub your teeth when you eat them. When the natural fibers of the fruits combine with saliva in the mouth, they help wash away food particles and stain-causing bacteria. And even though some fruit is high in naturally occurring sugar, it still tends to be one of the healthiest snacks or dessert options you can choose. Just be mindful about your intake of citrus – it does double dental damage as it’s packed with sugar and is acidic. The acid softens your tooth enamel, while the sugar feeds bad bacteria. Rinse your mouth gently with plain water after consuming citrus and wait for an hour or so before brushing to let your enamel recover.  

Pumpkin pie   

This dessert is typically less sugary than many others, and it contains vitamin A, which encourages healing and helps to reduce dry mouth issues that can cause dental decay. If you’re going to indulge in other sweets, beware of sticky, sweet desserts that cling to your teeth (we’re looking at you, pecan pie), saturating your mouth with sugar for long periods. Rinse your mouth with plain water right after eating any sugary snack, and then brush and floss thoroughly as soon as possible. (We’re assuming you won’t want to make a direct dash from the table straight to your toothbrush, but if you do – yay, you!).  

Red wine   

This beverage contains polyphenols, chemicals that may (we’re stressing “may”) help fend off harmful bacteria in the mouth. But there’s a problem – wine is also very acidic and can damage dental enamel. Dentists suggest limiting red wine intake, and instead, getting polyphenols from blueberries, raspberries and black grapes. (White wine is also acidic, sorry).  

Festive cocktails    

Most contain fruit juice, see above for the damage details on sweet, acidic juices. Colorful or dark-colored mixed drinks can also stain teeth, especially when the enamel has been softened by the sugar and acid in a cocktail. The same holds true for red wine and darker beers. And alcohol tends to dry out your mouth – remember, saliva is your body’s way of clearing away debris, bacteria and dental plaque. Avoid if you’ve had your teeth whitened recently (teeth are more prone to staining right after a bleaching treatment), ask your dentist about beverages to avoid if you have overlays, everyone else can probably indulge a bit.   


Even if you skip the salt, sugar, oil, butter and other festive toppings, popcorn can cause dental damage. In fact, popcorn is infamous among dentists for causing periodontal (gum) abscesses. Popcorn hulls – those rugged, rounded shells you find on corn kernels – slip into the tiny gap between teeth and gums and are often very hard to remove. Left to linger, they cause inflammation that can often develop into a painful, pus-filled sac. You don’t have to avoid popcorn, but be aware it can cause problems and (always!) head to the dentist ASAP if you do experience pain in your gums, teeth or jaw.  

Keeping your holiday smile bright  

Maintaining good oral hygiene at home is a must to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, especially around the (yummy) holidays! But no matter how great your oral care routine is, you need regular dental care too. If you’ve been putting off seeing the dentist due to cost, consider joining a dental savings plan – an affordable alternative to dental insurance. Plan members report an average savings of 50%* on their dental care.  

DentalPlans.com, the largest marketplace for dental savings plans and dental insurance, has more than 25 plans to choose from, from the most trusted brands in healthcare. Need help choosing the best plan for your needs? Give us a call at 1-833-735-0399 – we’ll help you figure that out. Want a quick peek at how much you can save right now? Use the calculator below. 

*Discount Health Program consumer and provider surveys indicate average savings of 50%. Savings may vary by provider, location, and plan. 

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