thanksgiving turkeyThe holiday season is upon us once again, and that means big family gatherings, plenty of sports on the television and plenty of food. This Thanksgiving, you can get your fill and protect your oral health by keeping an eye out for the best and worst foods for your teeth. Here’s a glance at some of them.

Best foods:

The Turkey. The protein in turkey is good for your teeth and the rest of your body. Both turkey and leafy greens have the kind of protein you need to increase bone (and tooth) strength.

Cheese. Calcium is another key component of teeth, and especially aged cheeses are chock full of them.

Sweet Potatoes. These are also great for your teeth as long as you skip the syrup.

Broccoli. Eating broccoli is great, because the fibrous chunks actually help scrub your teeth as you eat them. Yet another reason to eat broccoli.

Cranberry Sauce (as long as it’s homemade). This staple of the Thanksgiving dinner table is full of vitamins A and C, beta-carotene and potassium. They also protect your teeth by interfering with s. mutans, the bacteria in your mouth that forms plaque. If it’s homemade, you can also control the amount of sugar that goes into it.

Worst foods:

Pies, cookies, cakes, etc. These sugar-laden treats are not good for your teeth or for your waistline.

Dried fruits. Raisins, prunes and apricots are really sticky, which cause them to remain on the teeth longer, and since they’ve been dehydrated, they have a very high concentration of sugar in them.

Starchy foods. White bread and potatoes can lodge in between teeth and start converting to sugar, which is prime breeding grounds for bacteria.

While the holidays are meant to be enjoyed, it’s important to protect your teeth during the season. Make sure you brush after meals and while you may be tempted to graze, it’s best to eat a full meal at once to prevent recurring “acid attacks.” Happy holidays!