Turkey dinner can be good for your dental health
This month, we thought we’d take a look at the foods we eat at traditional celebrations because sometimes they can be great for your dental and general health.
Spending time with your loved ones feels even better when you know your holiday feast includes foods that are nutritious, and which help to protect teeth and gums.
The Christmas season offers many opportunities to get together with friends and family and to celebrate everything that is good in your life. Hopefully, that includes excellent oral health! We often take oral health for granted, but there is strong evidence linking a healthy mouth with a healthy body, and it is part of the reason why our dentist, Dr. James Cadigan is so passionate about preventative dentistry.
In addition to great dental care, your body, and your teeth and gums need lots of essential vitamins and minerals to remain strong and healthy, and to fight disease and infection. The following foods are tasty and good for you too!
While dinner is being prepared, put out plates of cheese cubes, mixed nuts and raw veggies with hummus or yogurt-based dips. Cheese is a wonderful snack for teeth because it contains calcium and a protein called casein and which helps to strengthen tooth surfaces, improving their resistance to tooth decay. Chewing raw vegetables and nuts stimulates saliva production. Saliva has a naturally protective effect on teeth, washing away excess bacteria, skin cells and food particles.
Turkey is the centrepiece of many Christmas feasts, and it is excellent for your teeth. It is packed with phosphorus which is essential when teeth are developing. When phosphorus combines with vitamin D and calcium, it helps to build strong bones and teeth. Once teeth have developed, phosphorus helps to protect them by rebuilding the hard enamel surface of teeth when the enamel becomes damaged by acids produced by bacteria in the mouth. Turkey is also a great source of lean protein, so it is good for your body too.
Why You Can’t Blame Turkey for Napping
Have you noticed how people tend to fall asleep after eating turkey? They often blame this phenomenon on the tryptophan in turkey. Tryptophan is used by the body to create serotonin, a chemical that helps induce a feeling of well-being and it is used to make melatonin, a hormone that controls your sleep patterns. But, turkey doesn’t contain any more tryptophan than other foods, so sleepiness is more likely due to overindulgence!
The pulp of a pumpkin is filled with vitamin A which is a powerful antioxidant, and vitamins C and E, calcium and potassium, all of which are great for your teeth, helping their development and to re-harden tooth enamel after exposure to acids created by bacteria. Don’t forget about pumpkin seeds which are great for heart health and have plenty of protein, minerals and vitamins too.
Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
Potatoes are rich in nutrients, and unlike other starchy foods, they will not stick to your teeth. When you eat sticky or other starchy foods that do stick to your teeth, they feed bacteria found in plaque until you brush your teeth, increasing your risk of cavities.
Winter Veggies and Greens
Your mum was right when she told you to eat your greens because leafy greens and other winter vegetables contain vitamin C and vitamin A. These vitamins protect against oral cancer, and they help to prevent bleeding gums.
Although these foods can be great for dental health, we know there are lots of other foods that are high in sugars and which aren’t quite as healthy. If you do want to indulge, including sugary treats as part of the main meal will reduce the negative impact on your dental health.