If you want to avoid a root canal, gum disease and even tooth trauma, it’s the little things that add up—as well as the big. The largest meals of the year can be a mecca for kick-starting cavities and gum disease. Fortunately, there are also many opportunities to slip some tooth-healthy foods into the feast. Whether you’re vigilant about keeping your annual dental cleanings or simply want to make the meal monstrosity a little healthier, you don’t need to go full Paleo/vegan/gluten-free to do so. Maybe you need to add some healthy ingredients to score better wellness.
When it comes to tooth care, there are foods and drinks which are “bad” for you—and some that are great. Mix in more of the latter and you’ll be able to indulge a little more in the cookies and eggnog next month. Here are a few ideas to get started:
1. Crunchy Apples
Fruits that are crunchy, such as apples, “work out” your teeth and also have high water content that balances out the sugars. It’s like taking a sip of water with every bite. Plus, apples perfectly complement the harvest season and can be generously added to stuffing, or left a little crisper for the apple pie.
Any type of dairy helps strengthen bones (including your teeth), but cheese is especially tasty. It also pairs perfectly with apples, so you can double up your Thanksgiving amuse-bouche by pairing a Granny Smith slice with a small wedge of cheese. Just remember to keep it in moderation since it is high in calories—and a known constipation tool.
You can literally go nuts this holiday season and your teeth will thank you. Choose an unsalted variety in order to keep your blood pressure in check, but otherwise feel free to set out bowls or add a pecan pie into the mix. You can also make your own nut-heavy crust for the pumpkin pie, which will also appease the low-carbers (assuming you substitute stevia for sugar, of course).
4. Turkey and Other Meat
Meats in general are good for your teeth, from their nutritional content to the mini workout your teeth get from chewing and tearing. Of course, white meats—such as turkey—are also the lowest in calories and fat. If you want to mix things up, consider adding some chicken dishes for a full poultry theme.
With so many healthy options at your fingertips, you just might be able to ditch the “tooth-dangerous” foods like the mulled wine and overly sweetened treats. And you thought your grandma’s homemade green bean casserole was something to smile about!