Give Thanks for Your Teeth: They’ll Work Hard This Week.
Be Thankful for Your Teeth
- Chewing – Teeth are absolutely essential for chewing food. Many people do not realize that chewing is the first step in the digestive process. The breakdown of food does not begin in the stomach. It begins in the mouth. Being unable to properly chew food means missing an important link in the chain of digestion. Chewing breaks large particles of food down into smaller pieces that will not damage the esophagus. Smaller food particles also help the stomach metabolize food more efficiently. When we chew, our salivary glands release digestive enzymes that begin digesting the food on a microscopic level. Missing even just a few teeth reduces chewing efficiency. Be thankful for your ability to chew!
- Speaking – Speech is highly dependent on the presence and position of teeth. It is possible to communicate with no teeth, but certain sounds are distorted. Anyone who has worn an Invisalign® aligner can attest to the fact that even the smallest changes to the teeth can change the way you speak. If your family can understand you over the Thanksgiving table this week, thank your teeth!
- Smiling – Another thing that is easy to underestimate is the power of a smile. A smile is the fastest way to communicate kindness and friendliness without words. People who are missing teeth are much less likely to smile at others, giving the impression of shyness or a lack of friendliness, because they are embarrassed to show an incomplete smile. A smile makes other people thankful for your teeth, too.
Be Kind to Your Teeth: Make Good Choices for Your Teeth on Thanksgiving
It is our biggest meal of the year, and people tend to eat the same traditional dishes every year. Thanksgiving dinner is certainly better for your teeth than the candy-filled holidays of Valentine’s Day and Halloween. Here are a few tips to keeping your teeth clean and healthy on the biggest eating day of the year.
- Turkey – Our favorite fowl can be brined and stuffed and roasted or fried. However it is prepared, it is the focal point of most Thanksgiving feasts. Turkey is packed with protein and is a great source of nutrition. The downside is that the tender tendrils of meat can get stuck between your teeth. One other potential consequence of turkey is forgetting to brush and floss because you’re too sleepy after your big meal. Leaving food stuck between your teeth can irritate your gums, causing gingivitis.
- Starches like mashed potatoes, dressing, macaroni & cheese – Not only do starchy foods like potatoes, breads, and pastas make you over-full and more likely to doze through your nighttime brushing and flossing regimen. The refined carbohydrates are the perfect fuel for bacteria in our mouths that love to cause cavities.
- Sweets – Everyone knows that sugar causes cavities. Just like Halloween candy, there are certain types of sweets that are worse for your teeth. Anything with a very sticky texture (ahem, pecan pie and cranberry sauce . . .) will keep that sugar on the tooth surface for a longer period of time, which increases the risk for cavities. Drink lots of water with your desserts and don’t allow any sugary treat to stay stuck on the teeth.
- Wine – Many people celebrate a Thanksgiving feast with wine flowing in bountiful amounts. While wine can help diffuse family tensions, it can create some problems for your teeth.
- Acids – All wines have an acidic pH, and acids can weaken the enamel of your teeth if they are allowed to stay in contact with them for an extended period of time. Our saliva has properties that fight the acid in wine, so it is best to drink your wine with the Thanksgiving meal. Sipping wine between meals for an extended period of time keeps the pH in your mouth lower than normal and predisposes teeth to cavities.
- Staining – With red wine comes stained teeth. Drinking large amounts of red wine will leave its mark on the teeth. You can reduce this staining by sipping water along with your wine or limiting wine to mealtime only. If you prefer to let the teeth become stained and then whiten them later, come see Dr. Chowning to discuss your whitening options so you can get your sparkling smile back by Christmas!
- Other tips:
- Limit snacking. Eating one large meal is better for your teeth than grazing all day.
- Drink lots of water. Water can help combat the acids in wine, flush out the stickiness of sweets, and wash away food debris.
- Do not miss brushing and flossing Thursday night before bed. We know such a heavy meal makes you fall asleep on the couch during the Cowboys game. Resist the urge to stumble straight to your bed. Make a stop at the bathroom sink and be good to your teeth. They’ve been good to you.
From all of us at Timberlake Dental, we wish you and yours the happiest of Thanksgivings. We are grateful for each and every patient, and the trust you place in us each time you enter our doors.