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Stuff the Turkey- Not Yourself

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What you didn’t know about your

Thanksgiving Foods


Here at McCreight Progressive Dentistry we are grateful for our wonderful clients. We love Thanksgiving because it is a time to celebrate family, friends and health! As you sit down for your Thanksgiving meal this year, you may think about how its affecting the scale or the fit of your new holiday outfit- but what about your dental health? It is no surprise that pumpkin pie is worse for your teeth than turkey. However there are some benefits and drawbacks to most of the food we indulge in during Thanksgiving. Below I will discuss which foods are great, some that you can cheat on and some that should be avoided at all cost.


Unarguably the main attraction of Thanksgiving for all Americans (unless your a football fan…) Turkey is packed with protein, about 11% of your daily needs are found in just one serving making it a favorite for not only your body but your teeth too! Protein contains a chemical called phosphorus which when mixed with calcium and vitamin D it creates strong bones and teeth. The minerals Iron and Zinc are also found in turkey which promote healthy mucosal tissues that act like a barrier between your gums and dangerous bacteria.

Moral of the turkey story? LOAD UP! It is low in fat so you won’t feel guilty about the seemingly endless amounts you pile into your face. While we are on the topic of loading up, don’t worry about tryptophan (the sleepy chemical found in turkey) it would take a dump truck full of turkey for the tryptophan to kick in. Our suggestion to you- let the chemicals do their job! This is your one chance to nap guilt free on grandma’s couch! Also, bring a floss pick to grandma’s house because turkey is really good at getting in those deeper pockets.


Cranberry Sauce

Cranberries are often considered a superfood because they are packed full of health benefits. From endless vitamins to antioxidants, cranberries have your back! Canned cranberry sauce…. Not so much! The go-to canned cranberry sauces are not packed with vitamins and antioxidants but rather sugar and more sugar. As we all know the equation sugar + teeth = tooth decay this means you should probably avoid it!

So, how can you get cranberry sauce minus the sugar? Make it from home! You can find hundreds of recipes that are so simple my 7 year old can do them herself. When you make it from home you decide how much sugar to put in, plus it just tastes better and fresher! If however your cooking skills are not up to par with my 7 year old you can always opt out for the Organic canned version which usually has ½ the sugar as regular canned brands.

Mashed Potatoes


If you grew up in my home you would know that mashed potatoes are really butter and heavy cream with a dash of potatoes finished with salt and pepper to taste. Which as you probably guessed is not that great for your gut. What about your teeth though? Well it is unfortunately pretty bad for your teeth too!  It is important to understand that starches like potatoes start breaking down into sugars almost immediately after consumption. This is started by the pre-digestive process which begins in your mouth through the enzymes in saliva.


A great way to get around this is to swap out the potatoes for their much better looking sibling, the Yam or Sweet potato. While not necessarily better looking themselves they will help you remain your fabulous self by packing in tons of low fat nutrients. (As long as you cut back on the heavy cream and butter.) For a low calorie recipe swap out the heavy cream for a dash of sour cream and the butter for margarine. Yams and Sweet potatoes both have anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent periodontal disease as well as vitamin A which is crucial for cleaning away destructive bacteria and food particles from between the teeth and gums. Whether you choose to do regular potatoes or sweet potatoes go easy on the butter and heavy cream.

Green Beans

An all time favorite in my home is the green bean! When I was growing up it was all about the green bean casserole, with all of its savory creamy goodness I thought nothing was better! Now however, as my tummy doesn’t agree with cream like it used to, I make my green beans sauteed with garlic. By doing so I don’t lose all of the nutritional value that green beans have to offer. One being flavonoids which are antioxidants that have certain anti-inflammatory properties that as you learned earlier are great for your oral health. Another important property of the green bean is fiber. Fiber is great to ease certain digestive issues like constipation and acid reflux which is KEY in helping your belly get over all of the Thanksgiving munching you’ve done.


Let’s first divide stuffing into two categories; from the box and homemade. Ok, now that we have that done want to hear about all the stuff in stuffing you probably don’t want in your body? Stuffing from the box contains chemicals that belong in a hazmat box, from enriched wheat flour to MSG and “natural flavors” this box is screaming Caution! There is not a single ingredient that hasn’t been messed with in a scientific lab and all of these additives have major repercussions with your overall and mental health. For instance MSG can set off reactions from skin rashes to depression. How hard or fast you get hit with those problems depends on your ability to tolerate it. In short, eating foods laced with MSG is devastating to your overall health.

The good stuffing however, that homemade yumminess, does not include ingredients you can not pronounce or “natural flavoring”.  With bread, celery, onion, butter, eggs and some seasoning you basically have all that you need! While bread and butter are not great for you they are also not enriched flour or partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or cottonseed oils. In short stove top stuffing is junk food that can cause a host of different issues. Whole, unprocessed foods have the opposite effect. You choose!


Let’s keep things really simple when it comes to desserts. Don’t do it! It’s a trap, one bite turns into one slice which turns into a slice of every dessert on the table. And now that you are all buzzed off wine there is no self control once you have taken the first bite. You’re belly and your teeth will not appreciate it, So stay away! Far far away!


Last but certainly not least we have the item off the table that makes uncle Fred’s jokes actually funny. WINE, it’s all what we came for (I mean who can really tolerate their family without it). It makes the food taste better, the jokes funnier, and me a heck of a lot louder, but what does it do for your health? While high in sugars and not considered a low calorie drink you shouldn’t go chugging from the bottle but a few extra glasses won’t hurt you. Wine actually contains a lot of ingredients that are pretty dang good for you (in moderation) Wine contains potassium, iron and B Vitamins 2 and 6 which all are great for your overall and oral health. The absolute best part about wine however, is that recently researchers in Italy found that, “Chemicals in red wine called proanthocyanidins, phytonutrients found in foods like grapes, apples and chocolate that have antioxidant properties, seem to prevent the bacteria Streptococcus Mutans, which cause tooth decay, from sticking to saliva and teeth.”

Homemade is ALWAYS better

To conclude this blog I will leave you with this one thing, no matter what you bring to the Thanksgiving table this year make it yourself. Homemade is always better because it is made with love, sweat and tears. Sure, you are no Paula Deen or Martha Stewart but you care which is the important part. You care enough about your loved ones not to pump them full of chemicals, unneeded sugar and fats; to spend the extra time to make them something that didn’t come from a jar or a box. A little suggestion to the non-cook, bring wine with your dish that way it will taste fabulous no matter what!


At this time of Thanksgiving we pause to count our blessings.

The freedom of this great country in which we live.

Its opportunity for achievement.

The friendship and confidence you have shown in us.

For all these things we are deeply thankful.

Our best wishes for a

Happy Thanksgiving!


Dr. Wendy and Dr. Jim McCreight along with their experienced Team at McCreight Progressive Dentistry offer exceptional dental care for all ages at our convenient Steamboat Springs, Colorado office. Looking for a dentist in the Western Slope area? Please call us and schedule an initial hygiene appointment (970) 879-4703.

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By: Anna Nierenberg, Client Relations at McCreight Progressive Dentistry.