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  • Anderson Family Dental

Holiday Foods for Healthy Teeth

Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season. For many of us, this time of year is all about great food. Whether that means gathering for meals with family or just a few extra sugar cookies, there’s something special about the holiday season. There are foods that help your oral health, and some that don’t do your smile any favors. We’re glad to report that many of your favorite holiday foods are great for your teeth, too! 

healthy veggies and fruit on a tray


Protein is the main event at many holiday meals. After all, Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be the same without that beautiful turkey on the table, right? Lean proteins like poultry, fish, and meat contain the building blocks for muscle, but they’re also key tooth healthy holiday foods. (And yes, tofu totally counts!) For kids, getting sufficient protein helps their teeth grow and develop. For adults, protein helps keep your facial muscles in shape just like any other muscle in the body. 

Even better, most lean protein sources also contain phosphorus, which is an essential mineral for strong teeth. Phosphorus in your saliva helps rebuild enamel and fight cavities. It also supports your body’s ability to utilize calcium. 

Chewing protein-rich foods like steak can pose a challenge for denture-wearers. Patients with loose, missing, and failing teeth may also find it difficult to chew tougher foods. That’s why many patients with dentures or oral health problems may have a protein deficiency in their diet. If you have trouble getting enough protein in your diet and find yourself wishing you could chew a nice, juicy steak again, talk to your dentist about replacing your teeth with dental implants. Dental implants can give you stable, sturdy tooth replacements that can handle these healthy holiday foods so you can enjoy everything on the table next year!


We all know we need to get plenty of vitamins. Many of your favorite holiday foods have tons of healthy vitamins to support your oral health and your whole body. 


That traditional Christmas card image of oranges in a stocky hung by the fireplace isn’t just nice to look at. Oranges are in peak season over the winter and give you a great source of immune-supporting vitamins. Citrus fruits are full of Vitamin C, which helps fight infections and supports wound healing. These benefits make citrus fruits a great source of nutrients that defend against gum disease. In fact, one of the main symptoms of Vitamin C deficiency is swollen, bleeding gums!

However, citrus fruits also contain a lot of acid, which can damage your enamel and contribute to cavities. After enjoying any acidic foods or beverages, it’s a good idea to rinse well with water or chew sugar-free gum to help neutralize your mouth. 


Nothing quite says winter like cranberries. They’re full of antioxidants (again, a great source of Vitamin C) just like other fruits. Unlike many other fruits, cranberries have some antibacterial properties! Since they’re frequently served in sweet sauces with lots of added sugar, be sure you enjoy it with other foods and clean your teeth well afterward.


Another classic winter fruit, pomegranate is a great source for Vitamin K. While it doesn’t enjoy the same star power as Vitamin C, K is essential for strong teeth and bones. It works alongside Vitamin D to help your body utilize calcium effectively. It promotes bone health throughout the body and may help mitigate the damaging effects of periodontal disease. It’s a powerhouse vitamin many of us don’t get enough of!

The crunchy, edible seeds in pomegranate are also a great source of polyphenol antioxidants. Studies indicate these compounds can help fight inflammation and may likewise prevent damage from periodontal disease. The seeds are also fibrous and crunchy, which means they’ll help clean your teeth while you chew!


Both standard potatoes and yams or sweet potatoes contain tons of great vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C, B6, iron, plenty of fiber, calcium, potassium, and the list goes on! Each of these micronutrients plays a vital role in supporting oral health. From fighting infections and inflammation to supporting bone health and wound healing, a good variety of vitamins and minerals make these side dishes amazingly healthy holiday foods.


Speaking of Vitamin K, feel free to go back for seconds on your salad! Leafy greens are one of the best healthy holiday foods, although many of us don’t get enough of them. Fortunately, they tend to show up on holiday menus in salads, collard greens, and casseroles. You can even couple them with other tooth-healthy foods, such as in a citrus and arugula salad or sauteed spinach with feta and walnuts. Getting hungry yet?


It’s not an accident we mentioned blending spinach with walnuts and feta. Cheese and nuts are both amazing options for healthy holiday foods that support oral health. Most of us are aware of the role calcium plays in keeping our teeth and bones healthy. Cheeses and other dairy foods have loads of calcium, and cheese specifically contains great levels of phosphate. Together, these minerals strengthen your teeth and bones, and also help balance the pH of your mouth. Neutralizing acids (such as from those awesome citrus fruits) helps prevent erosion and cavities.

Nothing says Christmas quite like a bowl of walnuts beside a nutcracker doll. Nuts are a powerhouse healthy holiday food, packed with tons of nutrients that help keep your teeth healthy. Most nuts have calcium and phosphorus. Walnuts contain folic acid, iron, thiamine, magnesium, iron, niacin, Vitamin E, B6, potassium, zinc… Many nuts can help prevent sores like angular cheilitis (sores at the corners of the mouth), and some even inhibit the growth of bacteria that can cause cavities!


There are some foods that may surprise you with how they can support your oral health! 


Sticky and sweet foods are supposed to be bad for your teeth, right? It may surprise you, but raisins have been shown to benefit your teeth. Raisins contain phytonutrients that help fight cavities. The combination of five plant-based antioxidants including oleanolic acids discourage the growth of bacteria that cause cavities, and may also stop harmful bacteria from sticking to the surfaces of teeth. Including them in some healthy holiday foods is a great move! Of course, don’t let their benefits get canceled out by only putting them in super-sweet oatmeal cookies.


Candy is always bad for your teeth, right? Another surprise tooth-healthy holiday food is chocolate! Specifically, dark chocolate. Dark chocolate (70% or higher) is a great source of those same polyphenols you can find in pomegranate. Studies have shown dark chocolate may fight cavities, and help reinforce enamel. In fact, there have even been attempts to make toothpaste from cacao! Unfortunately, milk chocolates don’t contain enough cacao to benefit your teeth, and the added milk and sugars aren’t great for your teeth either. 


Leave it to researchers in Spain to discover potential health benefits in red wine. But, it’s true! Red wine contains polyphenol just like dark chocolate and pomegranate. That means it may inhibit harmful bacteria, and keep bacteria from sticking to your teeth. 

Of course, we all know red wine can significantly stain your teeth, too. Fortunately, we have you covered with tooth whitening in Winter Park, FL so you can enjoy your wine and a bright smile, too! We hope you enjoy your healthy holiday foods and a great winter season! 


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