With all the pumpkin pie, candied yams, stuffing and cranberry sauce to gorge ourselves on this Thanksgiving, it’s important not to forget your daily oral hygiene routine. Many of the sweet foods and treats we eat over the holiday are stuffed with decay-causing sugar that eats away at our tooth enamel. While you don’t need to give up all the sugary Thanksgiving treats, it is a good idea to double down on your oral hygiene before and after all the feasting. Brushing, flossing and visiting with your dentist for an examination and cleaning will keep tooth decay from forming and leave you with a happy, healthy smile. Follow these tips to protect your oral health this Thanksgiving!
The Thanksgiving holiday is stuffed full of food and fun, but can leave your teeth feeling sticky and decay-ridden afterwards. While all the sweet and salty treats are delicious to eat, they can wreak havoc on your tooth enamel and cause painful cavities that take time and money to fix. While it’s okay to eat even the unhealthy treats in small amounts over the holiday, it’s good to know which foods are better for your teeth than others so that you can make the best choice. Let’s start with the most important part of the Thanksgiving meal: the turkey. Turkey is packed with protein, which is important for the body to heal and repair itself. Secondly, cranberry sauce is another Thanksgiving favorite but has a high sugar and acid content that contributes to plaque buildup and bits stuck between the teeth. Next, yams are a popular side dish that are full of Vitamin A and C but are often combined with marshmallow (for sweetness), which can stick to teeth. Mashed potatoes and gravy are another popular item at the dinner table and are full of potassium, Vitamin C and B6. However, potatoes have lots of starch, which bacteria love as they grow faster due to its sugar content. Gravy diminishes the health benefits of potatoes but is okay when eaten in small portions. While the turkey, cranberry sauce, yams and mashed potatoes and gravy have their pros and cons, an easy way to combat their negative effects is by committing to a good oral hygiene regimen. As you brush and floss your teeth each day and schedule regular dental checkups with your dentist, you’ll be able to enjoy the delicious holiday foods without sacrificing your oral health in the process.
The first part of your oral hygiene schedule should be brushing and flossing your teeth each and every day. This rule doesn’t apply to Thanksgiving only but should be completed 7 days a week, 365 days of the year. Brushing helps remove food particles and plaque that accumulates on and between the teeth as you eat, and this protects your teeth and gums from disease. Flossing removes food stuck between teeth and prevents bacteria from growing in the small crevices found in the mouth. Brushing and flossing removes the turkey that gets trapped between teeth, the stains that cranberry sauce causes, breaks up the sticky marshmallow on yams to prevent decay and washes away the starches from potatoes that contribute to cavities. Both brushing and flossing are essential for combating tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath, plus they give you a healthy, radiant smile. When brushing, use soft, gentle strokes brush along the gumline, around restorations and when cleaning hard-to-reach back teeth. Make sure to clean the outer, inner and chewing surfaces of each tooth, and scrub your tongue to keep your breath fresh. For flossing, wrap the floss around your index and middle fingers and push the floss around each tooth in a C-shape. Use back-and-forth and up-and-down motions to remove stuck particles that may be found therein. Brushing should be done twice a day while flossing is typically completed at night before bedtime. With all of the food that you’ll be consuming over Thanksgiving, you may have to brush and floss more often to ensure that all the food is removed from your mouth.
Even when you’re busy with food preparations, chatting with family and preparing for Black Friday shopping, you should never go cold turkey on your oral hygiene. While brushing and flossing should be completed this and every day, make sure that you’re staying up-to-date on your dental checkups with your dentist throughout the year. While seemingly small, dental checkups help prevent decay by removing hardened plaque and tartar, check for oral health issues like oral cancer and provide a deep cleaning for your mouth so that your teeth and gums are sufficiently protected until your next checkup. Your bite will be reviewed to ensure that you’re able to chew and speak correctly, and dental X-rays are often taken to evaluate your teeth and bone health beneath the gums. A dental exam will also be administered with a metal mirror and probe to check for signs of infection, inflammation and disease in your gingival pockets and around your teeth. Regular dental checkups combined with daily brushing and flossing will keep your teeth healthy for Thanksgiving and throughout the rest of the year.
At Stonebrook Family Dental, we care about your oral health and want to help you establish a good oral hygiene routine. While the food we eat over Thanksgiving can have positive and negative effects on our teeth, you can still manage to obtain good oral health without sacrificing your favorite foods. By brushing and flossing your teeth and visiting with the dentist, your mouth won’t suffer from painful decay. Call our office at (303) 872-7907 to schedule your next dental checkup and prepare for the holiday festivities!