Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and/or friends and think about all of the things we are thankful for. Unfortunately, for teeth, oral bacteria can really take a toll on our dental health. While we sit around the table, or on the couch watching football, we tend to graze on whatever deliciousness that we find around us. While we do this, bacteria called Streptococcus mutans, or S. mutans, plans a huge battle on tooth enamel. This type of bacteria thrives on sugars from foods like red wine, casseroles… most likely anything you can find on Food Mountain that’s surrounded by a gravy mote. The tiny microbes actually eat the sugar and leave behind acids that damage tooth enamel. One thing that our teeth can be thankful for on Thanksgiving is the foods that help your teeth stay strong. Some of the following examples are foods that you can incorporate into your Thanksgiving feast:
- Milk. The “Superman” of drinks for your teeth is milk. While it does contain a higher amount of fat, it, along with other dairy products can provide your teeth with calcium to make them stronger and whiter. If you’re not a milk drinker, drink water as much as you can. This will help to flush harmful sugars and bacteria.
- High-fiber fruits and veggies. Vegetables that are high in fiber can actually help your mouth to flush out harmful bacteria. By eating things such as carrots, pears, and apples, your mouth will naturally create more saliva, therefore, washing out and neutralizing acids that attack enamel.
- Unsweetened Cranberries. Cranberries actually contain enzymes that prevent glucans from forming, thus, preventing the S. mutans to do their damage. But be careful, this holiday favorite comes with a catch. A lot of cranberry products found in the grocery store are loaded down with sugars that counteract the benefits.
- Hard-boiled eggs. Eggs are beneficial to the teeth because they are lower in sugar and high in protein; but watch out for the deviled eggs. Sometimes the delicious yellow center can contain sugars that are devilish for your teeth.
- Celery and hummus. Celery is crunchy and requires a lot of chewing. This, in turn, provides a natural cleaning for your teeth. Even the annoying little fibers that get caught in between the teeth act as natural floss. Pair celery with a delicious, healthy dips like hummus and add it to the table for grazing.
- Natural Popcorn. Popcorn is a huge hit in the grazing arena. It is a sociable snack and also provides nutrition for your health as well as your teeth. The calcium and phosphorous in popcorn provides valuable minerals that help build the teeth. That being said, you should avoid popcorn if you have braces.
While healthy snacks can play a big part during the Thanksgiving season, it is improbable to think that we won’t eat foods with sugars in them. To keep the damage at bay, try to avoid nibbling on sweets and food all day. If you do, make sure you eat and drink things that promote saliva flow. This will prevent the build up of sugars and bacteria and neutralize acids formed by bacteria.
Patrick Toms DMD is a leading Gainesville, GA dentist who proudly offers a full-range of dental services to families in the North Georgia area.