On the last Thursday of November, families around the country will gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving. As one of the top holidays of the year, Thanksgiving offers people time to relax and recharge. Oh, and let’s not forget the feast.

Although the last thing you might think about when enjoying your big meal is what your dentist would say, you should always keep your dental health in mind when eating. After all, most American tables include a variety of best and worst Thanksgiving Day options.

Thanksgiving Choices That Make Dentists Smile

What are the foods that any dentist can get behind on Thanksgiving? Any leafy, green vegetables are a huge asset to your dental health. Whether you start with crunching celery as an appetizer, a big salad for a first course, or have steamed spinach leaves on the side, you’ll give your body some great nutrients. Those nutrients help keep your teeth and bones stronger, and some veggies like broccoli contain bone-boosting calcium.

How about the star of the show, the turkey? It turns out that turkey is packed with phosphorus. Phosphorus works with your teeth to increase the enamel, or protective outer portion of each tooth. The stronger your enamel, the less likely you’ll be to experience decay.

Love unsweetened cranberries for their tart taste and fresh burst of flavor? Your dentist would agree! Packed with vitamin C, they’re winners. Even if you need a little sweetener or honey to make them less of a “pucker up” experience, they’ll still be good for your mouth and whole body.

Thanksgiving Items to Eat in Moderation

As you might guess, desserts top the list as culprits for plaque build-up at your Thanksgiving Day table. The longer that sugars stick to your teeth, the more likely you are to experience problems. If you’re serious about getting healthier, aim for a smaller piece of pumpkin pie and brush immediately after the meal.

Starches like mashed potatoes and stuffing also hang around in your mouth if they aren’t removed by flossing and brushing. Bacteria love to feast on starch, which can wind up causing cavities or even gum disease.

Finally, be careful not to continuously eat throughout the day without at least rinsing your mouth or removing particles of food in your teeth. The longer gravies and debris remain on your teeth and gums, the higher the chance that you won’t appreciate the lasting effects.

Of course, you should always enjoy your Thanksgiving Day. Just be aware that your long-term dental health is more important than heaping helpings of pecan pie!