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November 4, 2021

What Thanksgiving Sides Pose Trouble for My Oral Health?

sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and stuffing

The anticipation of a Thanksgiving feast where just about everyone in your family contributed at least one dish is a special occasion indeed. You think you just might try everything.

When you are considering those sweet-smelling side dishes, proceed with caution. Depending on how you handle it, they could be problematic for your oral health. Keep reading to learn about some of the items you should watch out for.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet potatoes cooked with butter, brown sugar, and toasted marshmallows – sounds delicious, right? With the caveat that eating the sweet potatoes alone is good for your health, the sugary transformation they take with the rest of those ingredients is no friend to your tooth enamel. If you indulge, consider swishing with water after each bite, or as often as you can, and then head to the bathroom for brushing.

Cranberry Sauce

Canned cranberry sauce has its fair share of fans, be it canned or homemade. No matter the variety, however, this dish is filled with cavity-fueling sugar. Fresh cranberries are a much safer bet for your teeth and might deliver the flavor you’re looking for. If you must stick with the canned or homemade sauce varieties, keep a glass of water nearby to cleanse your mouth between bites, and have a toothbrush ready to roll when the meal is through.

Fruit Salad

It would be nice to assume anything made with fruit is healthy, but that’s simply not the case. Fruit salad has plenty of sugar and fruitcake is not going to sneak under the radar either, as its dried fruits are adept at sticking to your teeth after chewing. Drinking water early and often when you eat foods like this is beneficial to wash away food particles and prevent bacteria from proliferating in your mouth.

Stuffing or Dressing

You probably know this Thanksgiving staple as stuffing, but it’s dressing if it’s not within the turkey. Either way, it’s packed with carbohydrates. Just like sugar, when carbs remain on your teeth, oral bacteria begin to feed on them and the resulting acid byproduct begins to punish your tooth enamel. Just to hammer the point home, swishing your mouth with water when you’re done is smart and brushing your teeth at meal’s end is even better. Flossing should not be left out of the mix, as that would be a wonderful addition to your post-meal process.

There’s no doubt these foods are delicious, but they also require responsible eating for the sake of your oral health. If passing on these dishes is not an option – you can’t risk hurting grandma’s feelings, after all – then try to take steps to ensure these foods don’t remain in contact with your teeth. Just to make certain of that, after the holiday meal you should visit your dentist in Allentown for a cleaning!

About the Author

Dr. Bradford Young is an Allentown native who earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine from the University of Pennsylvania. With a dozen years under his belt providing optimal dental care to patients here at his own practice, Dr. Young is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry. As a married father of three, he is all too aware of the challenges of making wise food choices on Thanksgiving and trying to make sure that his children do the same. When the Thanksgiving leftovers have all finally been consumed, Dr. Young can help get your teeth in prime form with a dental cleaning and exam. To make an appointment, visit his website or call (610) 439-1363.

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