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Healthy Thanksgiving Tips For A Tooth-Friendly Holiday

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Food. Family. Football. If that's the holy trinity of Thanksgiving that you subscribe to, you're not alone. While you can't control your uncle taking a nap after the big meal with the game on in the background, you can call the shots on what kind of spread you're rolling out this year. Since it's such a traditional and glorious feast that everyone looks forward to but once a year, you want to make sure it's as scrumptious as ever. But what if — you could make it nutritious without sacrificing the delicious? You can. These morsels below aren't recipe recommendations per se, but rather some friendly seasonal advice on ingredients and preparation methods that can make the difference in the size of sweater you unwrap the next month. With the right menu, we're confident your guests and their smiles will be happy, healthy, and fulfilled.

What Are Some Appetizer Options For Thanksgiving?

It's not a holiday without some snacking and grazing before the reveal of the big bird. Try these wholesome handheld options:

  • Cheese
    • Whether it's slices, cubes, or spreads — the calcium from cheese helps strengthen your teeth. In contrast, a dairy protein helps prevent cavities, according to Dimensions of Dental Hygiene.
  • Raw Veggies
    • Just the simple action of munching on the raw vegetables from a crudités creates additional saliva to help wash away lingering bacteria.
  • Nuts
    • Calcium, and other minerals from nuts, also strengthen and remineralize teeth while chewing these crunchy bites produce extra saliva to prevent decay.

What Are Some Side Dish Options For Thanksgiving?

Some say the side dishes are what has made Thanksgiving the event it has become. We certainly can't change your taste buds' minds, but we can recommend a few that rise above the rest when it comes to tooth health.

  • Green Beans With Sesame Oil
    • While green bean casserole is a crowd-pleaser, try sauteeing your green beans in sesame oil. Top with sesame seeds (or maybe just a few fried onions) for a little crunch.
  • Fresh Cranberry Sauce
    • Not the jello-molded canned stuff. We're talking about the real-deal fresh version of cranberry sauce. Cranberries disrupt certain enzymes in the bacteria found in plaque, making them vulnerable.

What Are Some Main Course Options For Thanksgiving?

You can stick to the tried and true entree that's put Thanksgiving on the holiday map. Or you can go off-script and opt for a main dish with fewer feathers.

  • Turkey
    • Whether it's roasted, fried, or barbecued — the bird is the word. This Thanksgiving centerpiece is high in protein and phosphorus, which helps strengthen bones and teeth and mineralize them to protect against cavities. But be sure to have floss on hand as turkey always finds a way to get stuck between your teeth.
  • Ham
    • While usually reserved for a certain spring holiday, ham is quite delicious. But, according to Delta Dental, it's nutritious too, as just 3 oz. provides 15% of your recommended daily zinc that aids in replenishing your gumline tissue.

What Are Some Dessert Options For Thanksgiving?

Sweets following a meal can help spur saliva in washing away your fall feast. Again, you can go traditional, or you take the road less sweetened.

  • Pumpkin Pie
    • Go with a nut crumble crust and pass on the whipped cream because this turkey day staple contains the goodness of both vitamins C and A, which helps keep your outer enamel hard and robust, according to Delta Dental. Although it's tough, do try to keep it to one slice. Holiday treats are a season of their own.
  • Pear Slices With Yogurt Dip
    • Simple, sophisticated, and naturally sweet. By slicing up some pears and pairing them... with a delicious dip of Greek yogurt, honey, and cinnamon — you've got a concoction that will rival any baked good to conclude your meal. The fresh pears battle the acid on your teeth. Yogurt's calcium and phosphates keep your teeth strong. And you've got a natural antiseptic with honey. That's one tasty trifecta.

What Are Some Beverage Options For Thanksgiving?

Washing down your meal, whatever time of year it is, can drastically improve your oral health. Keep the lager and ales in the fridge and reach for something a little more tooth-friendly.

  • Water And Tea
    • Did you know your tap water has fluoride that can help enamel damaged by acids? Did you know green and black tea can kill cavity-causing bacteria? And did you know if you make tea with tap water, you're crushing in it the oral health department? Yep. It's all true.
  • Wine
    • According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, wine contains compounds that can reduce the amount of acid in certain bacteria found in your mouth by up to 85%. The uncorked truth tastes good.
    There are plenty of other dishes we didn't mention. But like anything in life, you should enjoy them, in moderation. However, there's food featuring the nutrients and vitamins needed to keep your mouth thriving throughout the holiday season. So you can keep your menu old school, or you can quickly pivot from a traditional menu and put your healthy spin on it. Remember, this is one day out of the year. Proper brushing, flossing, and mouth rinsing will keep your smile happy and healthy every day of the year. Getting your uncle to stop snoring during his nap — now that would be a Thanksgiving game changer.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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