6 Ways to Protect Kids' Teeth This Thanksgiving

6 Ways to Protect Kids' Teeth This Thanksgiving
Posted on 10/31/2022

Family-eating-Thanksgiving-dinnerAs another Thanksgiving approaches, many U.S. households celebrate the bounty in their lives by cooking up an impressive feast. Adults and children alike enjoy platters of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, and luxurious desserts. However, some of these servings can prove healthier for young teeth than others.

As a concerned parent, you undoubtedly want to give your kids a delicious Thanksgiving dinner without encouraging dental problems. The following tips should help you achieve that goal more easily.

1. Let Them Eat Turkey

Throughout November, you'll see turkeys take center stage at the grocery store. If your household eats meat, feel free to load up your children's plates with as much turkey as they can stomach. In addition to serving as a classic Thanksgiving main course, this bird offers a wealth of nutrients that can help support dental health and wellness.

You may already know that turkey provides a rich source of protein. You might not realize, however, that the protein in turkey also supplies your kids with a healthy dose of phosphorus. When this mineral mingles with the vitamin D and calcium in dairy products and other dietary sources, it strengthens tooth enamel. 

2. Don't Serve Sugary Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce finds its way onto countless Thanksgiving tables. Unfortunately, the canned cranberry sauces available in stores, while tremendously convenient to prepare and serve, can work against your kids' dental health. These sauces typically contain large quantities of sugar, which promotes tooth decay.

You can enhance your Thanksgiving dinner with the distinctive tangy and bright color of cranberries without resorting to the canned options. The berries themselves offer a tasty treat as well as an enzyme that actually helps protect teeth against bacteria. If you make or serve cranberry sauce, use a sugar-free recipe or product.

3. Offer Tooth-Healthy Snacks and Desserts

Thanksgiving dinners often feature not only multiple courses but also pre-meal snacks and post-meal desserts. Kids will naturally gravitate toward whatever sweets you put on the table. If those tasty treats get their appeal mainly from sugar, your children might end up with some costly new fillings before Christmas.

Fortunately, kids also love other, healthy snacks and desserts. Try putting out plates of cheese cubes and bowls of nuts instead of candies or cookies this Thanksgiving. Cheese provides lots of calcium, promoting strong tooth enamel and good jawbone density. Nuts contribute calcium and zinc as well as vitamins D, E, and B6.

Your choice of dessert can make a major difference in helping or harming your kids' teeth. Pies with sticky, sugary fillings can do significant damage because they don't wash away from tooth enamel easily. Opt for pumpkin pie instead. This Thanksgiving favorite washes away with water while also providing calcium and vitamins.

4. Go Easy on the Starches

Thanksgiving treats don't have to taste sweet to cause dental issues. If your Thanksgiving dinner emphasizes side dishes such as potatoes, noodles, bread, and the ubiquitous holiday stuffing, you might want to limit those particular options going forward. Starches stick to teeth and attract bacteria, resulting in cavities and gum disease.

Consider serving more vegetable side dishes as replacements for huge bowls of starchy foods. Leafy greens can give your kids much-needed calcium, while the vitamin C in carrots promotes gum health. Green beans even serve as a natural source of fluoride, which can keep tooth enamel strong.

5. Take Care With Acidic Beverages

You've probably grown accustomed to serving a variety of beverages with your Thanksgiving dinner, from soda or juice for the kids to more adult drinks for the grownups. Drinks such as water and milk can have positive benefits on dental wellness, while many other popular choices can have the opposite effect.

Soda and fruit juice contain high levels of both sugar and acids. Together, this dangerous duo can promote bacterial growth and erode tooth enamel. In fact, carbonated drinks in general, even sugar-free sparkling water products, can prove extremely acidic. Serve your kids plain water or milk instead.

6. End the Holiday With Good Dental Hygiene

You don't have to banish all questionable foods and drinks from your Thanksgiving menu as long as your kids practice good dental hygiene. If you serve your kids starchy or sugary foods, for instance, make sure they rinse their mouths with water, give the acids time to dilute, and then brush carefully.

Some Thanksgiving foods such as turkey, ham, or stringy vegetables can easily get jammed between a child's teeth. The longer those bits of food remain trapped, the more they serve as a food source for decay-causing bacteria. Make sure your kids floss thoroughly after enjoying a Thanksgiving feast.

Dentistry for Children & Adolescents can help you give your children a healthier Thanksgiving experience. Our pediatric dental team can advise you on food and beverage choices, provide those all-important checkups and cleanings, and show your kids how to brush and floss those Thanksgiving treats away more effectively. Contact us today.


Dentistry for Children & Adolescents

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