tooth-n-turkeyThanksgiving is quickly approaching and each year every magazine and morning talk show gives advice on what foods you should and should not eat to avoid packing on the pounds. One realm of health that is equally as important but often overlooked is oral health. Thanksgiving is about spending time with friends and family but for many, the real focus is on the food. It’s the one day where people feel like they have a free pass to really indulge. There are several foods that I have come to expect at Thanksgiving dinner; turkey, dressing, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, deviled eggs, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, pecan pie… the list goes on. Unfortunately, many of these Thanksgiving dinner staples are loaded with cavity causing carbohydrates and sugars. Indulging in these kinds of foods can have negative consequences on your waistline and your gum line. The good news is you can enjoy Thanksgiving and protect your teeth by planning ahead and following this advice..

First, make good choices about what kinds of foods you will be eating. Protein, vegetables, and fruits are going to be healthier and do less damage to your teeth. However, foods higher in carbohydrates and sugars (think casseroles and pies) are not only bad for your waistline but your teeth too. When making your plate for Thanksgiving dinner keep the MyPlate nutrition guide in mind. Avoid a carbohydrate overload by selecting protein, vegetables, and fruits first. This will leave you less room on your plate for those unhealthy options.

What you drink with the meal is just as important as what you eat. Avoid high-calorie, sugary beverages like soft drinks, juices, and sports drinks. These kinds of drinks bathe your teeth in cavity causing sugar and enamel eating acid. Sipping on water throughout the meal is your best option. Water can help to wash away any leftover food.

After eating any meal, you want to limit the amount of time these food particles are allowed to remain on your teeth. Brushing your teeth is ideal but difficult to do if you are out and about on Thanksgiving Day as many of us are. Plan ahead and bring a travel sized toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. Forgot your toothbrush? Another option would be to simply rinse your mouth out with water. Rinsing your mouth after the meal helps dislodge some of the leftover food. You can even use a wet wash cloth to wipe down the surface of your teeth and your tongue. Follow up with some mouthwash for that fresh, clean feeling.

Planning ahead and making responsible food choices this holiday season will ensure good oral health and your teeth will thank you.