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Your Thanksgiving dinner is likely one of the most anticipated meals of the year. Often, though, it’s not your family’s healthiest meal. With dishes like mashed potatoes, casserole and pie, Thanksgiving dinner can be loaded with starches and sugars that are damaging to your teeth and overall health.
This Thanksgiving, swap out starchy or sugary dishes for more tooth-healthy options.
Does your family buy cranberry sauce every Thanksgiving? Store-bought cranberry sauce or jelly is loaded with sugar. Plus, cranberries are naturally tart, so it can be tempting to add sugar to sweeten up your cranberry sauce dish. Cranberries on their own, however, have oral health benefits including cavity and gum disease prevention, as well as antioxidants that benefit your immune system.
This year, make your own reduced-sugar cranberry sauce. This cranberry sauce recipe is sweetened with honey instead of refined sugar. Studies have shown that honey actually can help prevent gum disease and cavities.
Sweet potatoes, or yams, are full of vitamin C, which helps keep your teeth and gums healthy. Candied yams, however, are made with sugar or marshmallows, which can increase your risk of cavities. Yams are naturally sweet, and delicious even without these added sugars. For a healthier option, leave the sweeteners behind, and flavor your yams with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
Not only are casseroles often high in fat, they tend to be full of starchy noodles or potatoes, which can leave sugar behind on your teeth and lead to cavities.
Some dishes, like green bean casserole, have plenty of healthy ingredients already, such as green beans, mushrooms and onions — all of which benefit your oral health. Rather than making a casserole, use these ingredients for a healthy side dish, such as this recipe from the American Heart Association.
Pumpkin pie is a staple of Thanksgiving dessert tables. While pumpkin has a variety of oral health benefits — such as Vitamin A to improve dry mouth and magnesium to help protect against gum disease — pumpkin pie is full of sugars that are damaging to your teeth.
This year, bring something new to the Thanksgiving dinner table. Instead of pie, try making these low-sugar pumpkin muffins. They are made with calcium-rich low-fat milk, which helps strengthen your teeth.
Drink water with your meal instead of juice or other beverages. This will help wash away sticky residue from any starchy or sweet food you consume during your Thanksgiving meal. If you want something sweet to drink with your meal, try adding a splash of 100 percent fruit juice or squeezing a lemon or lime into your glass of water.
Be sure to take extra care of your teeth by flossing and brushing your teeth after your meal. Instead of cleansing your palette with mints, chew sugarless gum to help prevent cavities.
Finally, Thanksgiving is a great time to schedule a dentist appointment. People tend to consume more treats around the holidays, which make your teeth more susceptible to cavities or infections. Plus, you’ll be sure to use your dental benefits before the year ends! Get started by finding a dentist near you.
Need a dentist near home, work or your kids' school? With one of the largest networks in the country, we make it easy to find a dentist who fits your location and your schedule.
*All TruAssure dental plans are offered in association with the DenteMax Plus dental network arrangement, which includes participating dentists from the United Concordia, DenteMax and Connection dental networks.
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