Thanksgiving is one occasion that brings many families together around the table with no greater ambition than eating a delicious meal. It’s a family holiday of the purest variety, but it can also be one of the more damaging to your teeth. The heavy eating and snacking associated with Thanksgiving can lead to significant tooth damage. But there are ways you can not just enjoy your family’s smiles this Thanksgiving, but protect them as well, by making a few simple changes.

Snacks and Finger Foods

dreamstime_xs_45744954When putting out snacks and finger foods, you’ve got a great opportunity to provide your family with tooth-healthy options. Instead of cookies and candies, put out fresh, crunchy vegetables. These are not only nutritious, but they can help clean off your teeth to remove clinging foods from the meal or other snacks. Nuts are also a good option, because they also are crunchy and their high protein-low carbohydrate balance doesn’t feed bacteria as much as other foods.

Resist the temptation to put out pickles and green olives, though. These are acidic and contribute to tooth erosion.

And if you’re looking for a dip, try healthy, nutritious, and delicious hummus rather than fatty and often sugar-laden ranch dressing.

Beverage Choices

Beverages are another place where you can easily reduce the impact on your family’s teeth. Coke is the worst offender here, with many sodas being highly acidic and capable of causing significant tooth damage. If you must have cokes, try to steer clear of colas, which are the most acidic. They are about 40 times more acidic than root beer, the least acidic type of coke.

Iced tea is a great alternative. Even if you make a traditional sweet tea recipe, which has a comparable sugar content to coke, the acid level is considerably less. Better yet, have some unsweetened iced tea.

At the table, consider substituting the usual wine with a microbrew from one of our local establishments, like the Hunter Gatherer Brewery. Wine is very acidic, but beer is considerably less so. And there are lots of choices to make a special toast.

Finally, encourage people to drink water throughout the day. It will help clean teeth between snacks and other beverages, help people stay hydrated, and help everyone stay awake after eating.

Cut Down on Added Sugar

As with sweat tea, there’re a lot of foods that start out healthy, but become considerably less so if you add a lot of sugar. Sweet potatoes are a great example. There’s no need to add all the marshmallows and sweeteners to what are actually naturally sweet and delicious vegetables. If you’re concerned that they won’t be flavorful enough, try spicy sweet potatoes.

Although sugar definitely has a place in Thanksgiving favorite desserts like pumpkin pie and especially pecan pie, there are probably many other recipes where you can cut it out and it won’t be missed.

Making these few simple changes can help your family have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday.

And if you’re looking for a Columbia, SC dentist who can help you maintain your oral health year-round, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment at Smile Columbia Dentistry.