Thanksgiving is a day to remember everything we’re thankful for – a day to give thanks with family. It’s also one of the biggest feasting days in the United States. There’s turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and plenty of other tasty treats associated with the holiday. Unfortunately, many of those foods can do a number on your teeth. While your first instinct may be to brush immediately after the big dinner, that’s actually not the best choice. Here’s a closer look at Thanksgiving foods that are tough on teeth, a few tips for making the feast a bit healthier for your teeth, and the real deal on when you should brush to minimize damage to your pearly whites.
Those Sugary, Starchy Foods Invite Tooth Decay
Candied yams, cranberry sauce, soft drinks, and pies are all sugary foods that can invite tooth decay, especially if you let sugar sit on your teeth all day. However, you may not realize that other starchy foods like stuffing and mashed potatoes can be just as damaging to teeth. This doesn’t mean that you have to avoid these foods completely, but limit the amount of sugary, starchy foods you eat, avoid grazing all day, and be sure to brush and floss.
Some Thanksgiving Favorites May Cause Stains
Certain Thanksgiving favorites can cause stains to your teeth as well. Red wine and cranberry sauce are two big culprits. Go ahead and enjoy these foods but eat them with other foods and drinks instead of indulging in them by themselves.
Drinking Water While Eating Helps
Drinking water while you are eating can help prevent the damage of sugary foods and staining foods. When you drink plenty of water during and in between your meals, it rinses away many of the food particles that would otherwise be staying on your teeth breeding teeth eroding bacteria. If you do decide to snack before or after the main meal, make sure to rinse your mouth out with water.
Eating Smarter on Thanksgiving Day
While you don’t have to skip your favorite Thanksgiving treats, you can eat smarter and make choices that are healthier for your mouth and your entire body. For example, go ahead and indulge in that turkey. It’s high in protein, which when combined with vitamin D and calcium help keep your teeth strong. While you want to avoid tons of sugar in your cranberry sauce, cranberries are actually high in important nutrients like vitamin A and vitamin C. While those onions don’t smell the greatest, they actually contain compounds that can kill bacteria in the mouth causing harm to gums and teeth.
Brush Your Teeth – But Wait!
You already know how important it is to brush your teeth, but don’t give in to the temptation to brush immediately after you eat the big Thanksgiving dinner. Brushing too soon after a meal, especially if you’ve had any foods or drinks that are acidic can actually do more harm to your teeth than good. Acid attacks your teeth and can erode your tooth enamel. When you brush while acids are attacking the teeth, you can accelerate this process by pushing acids deeper into your enamel.
The best option is to wait at least 30 minutes to an hour after you finish that special meal to brush your teeth. However, rinsing well with water or a good mouthwash immediately is just fine. If you’re worried you’ll forget to brush, set an alarm for an hour after your big meal so you remember. Flossing is also important to make sure you get sticky food particles from between your teeth as well.
Are you going away for Thanksgiving? Make it easy to brush and floss by taking along a travel toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. This way you don’t have to wait until after your drive home to take care of your teeth.
Thanksgiving is about time with family, being thankful, and yes, the great food. Just make sure you’ll have healthy teeth to be grateful for next year by taking time out to care for your teeth and gums on Thanksgiving Day. Be sure to book your next checkup and professional cleaning soon to keep your teeth at their best.