Just as its name implies, Thanksgiving is a time when we gather together to give thanks for what we’ve been given. And while you’re preparing to dig into that Thanksgiving feast, remember to give thanks for your teeth.
Even though most of us don’t often think about our teeth, or if we do, we think that they’re strong as steel, under that outer hard shell of enamel is a sensitive nerve and other living tissue that needs to be treated with respect to avoid a holiday-dampening dental emergency. What are some things you can do to make sure you get to enjoy Thanksgiving the way it’s meant to be enjoyed?
Use the right tool for the right job: Your teeth are meant to be used for chewing food. They are not nutcrackers or bottle openers. Human teeth are not designed for crushing hard shells of nuts or for the angled forces needed to open a bottle. Using them in ways for which they are not designed increases the risk of cracking a tooth. Cracked teeth are painful and often require pricey repairs. Take a couple extra minutes to grab the proper tool to save yourself the grief and pain.
Avoid known problem foods: Popcorn kernels (which includes caramel corn) and hard candy (such as candy canes) are known tooth-breakers. (Just ask any dentist!) A single popcorn kernel can cause damage ranging from a broken cusp to a cracked tooth. Biting down on hard candy or candy canes can cause chips, cracks or fractures in your teeth. For those with braces, the pressure from biting on hard candy can break the brackets off your teeth. Hard candies also expose your teeth to cavity-causing sugars for a longer period of time because of how long they remain in the mouth.
Our Thanksgiving meals are carbohydrate (carb) heavy--think stuffing, mashed potatoes, rolls, pies, and cakes. Carbs wreak havoc on your mouth including your teeth. So what are some things you can do to protect your mouth?
- Eat your carbs as part of a balanced meal. (Turkey, cranberries, salad etc.) The protein helps to counteract the effect of the carbs and cranberries defend your teeth against decay-causing bacteria.
- Don’t graze: Each time you put something in your mouth, acid attacks your teeth for about 20 minutes. Munching on small amounts of food throughout the day keeps the teeth bathed in acids that cause cavities.
- Drink milk with your meal. Milk contains calcium that your teeth need. The calcium in milk may counteract the calcium lost due to acids attacking your teeth while eating.
- Brush and Floss as soon after eating as you can. Toothpaste helps neutralize acids attacking your teeth, and the mechanics of brushing and flossing removes the food particles from your teeth. If you can’t brush and floss, try to chew sugarless gum or drink a glass of water.
I hope these tips will help you be thankful for your teeth and a healthy smile, and if you are not, give my office a call. We’ll help you reach a smile you of which you can be proud! I can be reached at 440-960-1940 or via the contact form on my website at www.drjrobb.com You can also interact with me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/drjenniferrobb
*Note: Information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare practitioners.