As the holiday season approaches, you may be thinking of all the delicious foods you’ll be consuming over the next couple months: turkey with all the fixings, pumpkin pie, prettily decorated holiday cookies, eggnog, and so much more.
We would never suggest ditching your family’s holiday meal traditions. But how about incorporating a few new foods — ones that not only taste delicious, but help your teeth and gums?
It’s not hard, we promise! Read on to learn about a few dental superfoods, and how they can jazz up your holiday gatherings (and, beyond that, your daily table).
And don’t forget to book your next checkup with Marineland Dental Care of Kennewick, WA. Call us at 509-591-0515.
Nuts make an awesome low-sugar, nutrient-rich snack. They are packed with beneficial vitamins and minerals, and tooth- and gum-friendly omega-3 fatty acids and protein. They also help keep your teeth clean when you eat them. The act of chewing nuts stimulates production of saliva, which is nature’s way of rinsing bad bacteria, damaging acids, and food particles from your mouth.
There are all sorts of ways to incorporate nuts into your holiday parties and meals. Set out bowls of fancy mixed nuts for guests to nibble on as they mingle. Sprinkle salads with chopped roasted pecans, walnuts, or almonds. Almonds also make an excellent garnish for green beans.
Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collards . . . and the list goes on. These leafy green vegetables are nutritional powerhouses packed with vitamins and minerals that help keep your mouth — and entire body — in great condition. They are also low in calories, meaning you can really pack them in.
Leafy greens are excellent sources of calcium, so vegans and people with dairy allergies should make them a central component of their diets. Calcium is stored almost entirely in the bones and teeth and is essential for maintaining their structure. Plus, greens contain folic acid, which is thought to help fight gum disease.
For a simple but fantastic holiday side dish, saute greens with olive oil and garlic. They also make fantastic winter salads that will wow your dinner guests. Think baby spinach salad with warm bacon dressing. Or a lemony shredded kale salad with shaved parmesan cheese and pine nuts.
All dairy products (non-sugary ones at least) are good for your teeth. They are chock-full of calcium, which keeps your enamel strong and able to resist acid attacks from bacteria. Your teeth constantly shed calcium in a process called demineralization, so it’s important that you replenish your supply through eating calcium-rich foods. Dairy products also contain proteins called caseins. These are believed to join together and form a protective coating over your teeth, reducing your likelihood of developing cavities.
But cheese has a special property that, in studies, has not been demonstrated by other types of dairy products. It increases the pH balance in your mouth, making it better able to fight off bacteria and decay.
For an impressive cheese plate to set out for your next holiday gathering, go to a good cheesemonger and have an expert help you pick out a selection. They will also be able to suggest garnishes for the varieties you choose.
Raw veggies are packed with vitamins and minerals. Eating carrots, celery sticks, and other crunchy produce increases saliva production in your mouth. This helps to wash away bacteria and food particles and dilute cavity-causing acids. The high fiber content of raw vegetables also stimulates the gums in a good way.
Set out a tray of crudite for all your holiday gatherings. Aside from their oral health benefits, raw veggies make a welcome light and low-calorie prelude to heavy holiday meals.
The secret to making a plate of raw vegetables appealing is the dip. Hummus is always a solid choice (you can find myriad variations online), as is a homemade ranch dressing. Or try your hand at making a sophisticated bagna cauda.
Raw onions contain a powerful antimicrobial ingredient that, in one study, completely eradicated four — yes, four — strains of bad bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay. So it’s an excellent idea to incorporate some raw onion into your diet.
This can be a bit tricky — too much raw onion is overpowering, unpleasant to eat, and potentially unpleasant for anyone who interacts with you after the fact. Very thinly sliced sweet or red onion makes an excellent addition to salads, and finely chopped onion may be incorporated into guacamole or other dips.