Is Your Thanksgiving Feast Good for Your Teeth | MouthHealthy - Oral Health Information from the ADA

Is Your Thanksgiving Feast Good for Your Teeth?

A photograph of a Thanksgiving meal.


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 MouthHealthy: It's the star of the Thanksgiving table. Gobble it up!

A photograph of cranberry sauce.

Cranberry Sauce

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 MouthHealthy: 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."

A photograph of yams.


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 MouthHealthy: If candied, enjoy in moderation and drink plenty of water with your meal to help wash away any leftover food.

A photograph of green bean casserole.

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 MouthHealthy: Dig in! But you may want to keep a floss pick handy. “This is good stuff,” Dr. Harms says.

A photograph of mac and cheese.

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 MouthHealthy: As with many feast-worthy foods, eat a sensible portion and break out your brush and floss later.

A photograph of mashed potatoes and gravy

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 MouthHealthy: “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.

A photograph of pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Pie

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 MouthHealthy: 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.