As family and friends gather to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, dentists at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry say remember to give thanks for a healthy smile, and keep good oral health in mind as you prepare your meal.

“Eat foods that provide the vitamins and minerals needed for good oral health,” says Dr. Charles W. Wakefield, professor and director of the Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency Program at TAMHSC-Baylor College of Dentistry. “Foods rich in calcium, phosphorous and vitamins A, C and D should be part of the holiday meal.”

No Thanksgiving would be complete without the turkey, and dentists say it’s good for your teeth because turkey is rich in phosphorous. This aids in tooth development, rebuilds tooth enamel and helps prevent bone loss.

Make sure to include fruits and vegetables like citrus fruits, strawberries, cantaloupe, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, collard greens and kale because they supply needed vitamins A and C. These help prevent bleeding gums, loose teeth and oral cancer. Cranberries are a great menu item because they prevent bacteria from sticking to your teeth.

Also, add some potatoes – sweet or mashed – on the side. They are packed full of nutrients and, unlike other starchy foods, they don’t stick to your teeth.

A slice of pumpkin pie is just what the dentist ordered to top off a tasty and healthy Thanksgiving meal. Pumpkins are a good source of vitamin C, iron, niacin and potassium.

Having a healthy smile is a cause for thanks because studies show the link between good oral health and overall body health. This Thanksgiving holiday, remember to take care of your teeth.

— LaDawn Brock