This weekend, as your family celebrates Thanksgiving Day, it's important to keep your oral health in mind. When preparing your holiday meal, include foods that are nutritious and beneficial for your teeth and gums.
"Just like our bodies, our teeth and gums need many essential vitamins and minerals to stay strong and healthy," says ODA President Dr. Ira Kirshen. "In fact, to ensure proper tooth development and strength, adults, children and seniors alike need a lot of calcium, vitamins and minerals."
Essential vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal oral health include calcium, phosphorous and vitamins A, C and D. A traditional and delicious Thanksgiving Day meal incorporates all of these necessary nutrients:
- Turkey is high in phosphorous, which is needed for tooth development. It also rebuilds the hard surface (enamel) of the teeth which are damaged by acid-producing bacteria. - Sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes are richly nutritious with a proper balance of vitamins and nutrients. Potatoes do not stick to the teeth unlike other starchy foods which serve as a haven for oral bacteria. - Greens and winter vegetables are great sources of vitamins A and C. These prevent soft, bleeding gums and protect against oral cancer. - Cranberries contain flavonoids that can hinder bacteria from sticking to the teeth and forming dental plaque. - Pumpkin pies are a good source of vitamin C, which protects gums, and the calcium needed in the development and re-mineralization of teeth.
A nutritional and balanced diet can help those family members who are particularly vulnerable to oral health problems, including women who are pregnant, children and seniors.
"Many take oral health for granted, but countless studies have shown that there is a strong association between good oral health and good body health," says Dr. Kirshen. "Spending time with your loved ones at Thanksgiving is even better when everyone is healthy and happy."
ONTARIO DENTAL ASSOCIATION