The Good: This main course is packed with protein.
The Bad: “Turkey can be difficult to eat because it sometimes gets stuck between your teeth,” says ADA spokesperson Dr. Kim Harms. “That’s where flossing can help.”
The Bottom Line: It’s the star of the Thanksgiving table. Gobble it up!
The Good: It’s a tasty Thanksgiving tradition.
The Bad: Cranberries are naturally tart, so sugar or sugar substitutes are often added to recipes. This side dish can be sticky, acidic and may temporarily stain your teeth.
The Bottom Line: If eaten alone the sugar content, stickiness, tendency for the little berries to get stuck between your teeth and acidity make it one of those foods that needs to be eaten with a meal.”
The Good: Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamins A and C, which help keep your gums healthy. They can also be prepared in many ways.
The Bad: Candied yam recipes call for marshmallows. Sticky foods can damage your teeth since they tend to stay on your teeth longer than other types of food.
The Bottom Line: If candied, enjoy in moderation and drink plenty of water with your meal to help wash away any leftover food.
Green Bean Casserole
The Good: “Green beans are healthy, mushrooms are healthy, onions are healthy,” Dr. Harms says.
The Bad: “It can be sticky and little beans may get stuck in your teeth,” Dr. Harms says.
The Bottom Line: Dig in! But you may want to keep a floss pick handy. “This is good stuff,” Dr. Harms says.
Macaroni and Cheese
The Good: Say cheese! Many recipes call for cheese and milk. The calcium from these ingredients helps strengthen teeth.
The Bad: “Good cheese can be gooey,” Dr. Harms says. White pastas are also starchy and can leave sugar behind on your teeth.
The Bottom Line: As with many feast-worthy foods, eat a sensible portion and break out your brush and floss later.
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
The Good: “Potatoes are an important dietary source of vitamin C, B6 and potassium,” Dr. Harms says.
The Bad: Potatoes are starchy, and cavity-causing bacteria loves the sugar that makes up starch.
The Bottom Line: “If covered with gravy, the health benefits of the overall dish are diminished to some extent, but this is a holiday and only comes once a year,” she says.
The Good: Pumpkin has Vitamin A, which helps keep your gums healthy and builds the hard outer shell of your teeth (enamel).
The Bad: There’s the added sugar in the pie itself and whatever whipped topping you put on top.
The Bottom Line: This is usually a once-a-year treat, but dish it out after dinner. Eating sweets shortly after meals helps keep saliva flowing to wash away leftover food.