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Thanksgiving Healthy Eating Tips From North Carolina’s Top Dentist – The Happy Tooth

Thanksgiving is a time for friends, family, and of course, food. It is still a good idea, though, to watch what you eat, especially when it comes to food for healthy teeth.

For example, there are foods that contain extra sugar and can erode your teeth, or foods that can crack your teeth if you aren’t careful. It’s a good idea to avoid those and focus on more friendly food for healthy teeth and gums.

family eating food for healthy teeth

Here, then, are The Happy Tooth’s top recommendations for each:

Avoid: Foods that Promote Tooth Decay

Any foods with a lot of sugar can promote tooth decay. This includes candy, soda, ice-cream and other deserts, and high-sugar fruit juices, as well as jellies and jams.

Be aware that many foods we don’t normally think of as “sugary” actual contain a lot of added sugar. This includes breakfast cereals, many kinds of yogurt, prepared sauces and “boxed” dinners.

If you do eat sugary foods, be sure to brush soon afterwards. The longer sugar stays on the surface of your teeth, the more damage it can do.

Avoid: Foods that Can Stain Your Teeth

Although stained teeth might not affect your oral health directly, it can make you self-conscious about the way your smile looks. It can also make it harder to see how well you are brushing.

Foods that stain teeth can also stain orthodontic equipment, such as ceramic braces or Invisalign trays, as well as some veneers.

The top culprits when it comes to stained teeth include red wine, coffee, and tea. Soda can also stain teeth – even clear or light-colored sodas contain acids (see below) that can make your teeth more vulnerable to other staining agents. Sports drinks often contain dyes that can stain teeth in the short term.

Some sauces (such as curries and tomato sauce) are also known to stain teeth as well.

Avoid: Foods that Can Crack Your Teeth

Every year, we hear plenty of stories from patients who chip or crack their teeth on certain foods. Here are the top culprits:

  • Hard Candy
  • Unpopped popcorn kernels
  • Frozen candies, nuts, or desserts
  • Ice
  • Hard/tough bread
  • Taffy

Avoid: Acidic Food and Drinks

Acidic foods and drinks might not harm your teeth directly, but they do break down the protective enamel that protects your teeth. (Follow the link for a cool experiment that proves this point!)

Cutting down on these foods, and balancing them with health foods (see below) will help to keep your teeth healthy over time.

The most acidic drinks include soda, citrus juices (including orange juice and grapefruit juice), beer, wine, and carbonated water (believe it or not). Acidic foods include things like citrus fruits, yogurt, pickles, and pasta with red sauce.

Again, some of these are also healthy choices for your diet. So the goal is to moderate your intake of acidic foods and brush well after particularly acidic meals.

The Best Foods for Dental Health?

bunch of food for healthy teeth are laid out on a table

The above lists sound like a lot to avoid! And it’s true – there are a lot of foods that can cause problems when you eat them too much. Moderation is the key. An occasional treat doesn’t hurt, especially if you keep up with your oral health routine.

The good news is that there are several foods that prevent tooth decay or are otherwise good for your dental health:

Cheese. Love cheese already? A study published in the American Academy of General Dentistry found that eating cheese raises the pH in the subjects’ mouths, lowering the risk of tooth decay. Cheese also contains calcium and protein, both found in foods that strengthen teeth.

Almonds. Almonds are one of the best-kept secrets of the snack world. They are a good source of calcium and protein (which, again, helps to strengthen teeth) but are also low in sugar – and also very tasty!

Calcium-rich foods. Calcium helps build up the protective enamel on your teeth. Besides cheese, calcium-rich dairy foods like milk are also good for your teeth. But broccoli, kale, okra, and tofu also have a surprising amount of calcium, too.

Protein-rich foods. Foods rich in protein help your body to make make repairs over time. Soft meats, tofu, eggs, and beans are all good sources of protein.

Fruits and vegetables with high water content. These include things like apples, celery, cucumbers. The water content of these fruits and vegetable help dilute the sugars and starches in them, which in turn helps keep those sugars and starches off your teeth. Good ol’ fashioned water helps, too!

Sensible desserts. When it comes to holiday eating, people want to splurge on something special, and a handful of kale won’t do it. That said, there are some sensible holiday treats you can indulge in. Peppermint, for example, aids digestion and helps keep your breath fresh.

Gingerbread can make for a tasty treat without a lot of added sugar. Cinnamon nuts can pack a flavor punch – as long as they don’t have a lot of added sugar.

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