Holiday Treats That Are Good for Your Teeth
Equipping yourself with a few trusty, tooth-friendly recipes can help you and your family enjoy the upcoming holiday party season with greater oral health and ease. Conventional holiday treats and beverages are notoriously starchy and sweet, which can eventually spell trouble for your teeth. Oral bacteria feeds on sugars and starches that are left over after you eat or drink, producing an acidic byproduct that can gradually wear down your enamel, cause tooth decay or gum disease, or leave your pearly whites looking dull and dingy.
With a dose of mindfulness and simple planning, you can enjoy and help share the gift of great oral health and beauty with your friends, colleagues, and family. Here are 3 tooth-friendly recipes that are easy to prepare and are sure to impress at any holiday party.
1. Homemade Hummus with Crunchy Veggie Spears
On top of being easy on your teeth, hummus is a nutritious side dish that’s versatile and easy to make. Hummus is typically made with chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), a protein- and fiber-rich legume that’s low on the glycemic index and generally beneficially for your oral and overall well-being, and tahini (ground sesame seeds). Chickpeas and tahini also contain multiple minerals that contribute to the health of your teeth, such as calcium and vitamin K. Serving hummus with crunchy veggies spears, such as carrots and celery, can further support your oral health by essentially “scrubbing” your teeth as you eat and increasing saliva production.
Here’s one of the basic tooth-friendly recipes for making hummus: all you need is a food processor and a few basic ingredients. And, if you’re looking for a spin on this classic Middle Eastern dish, you can experiment with different add-ins, from pureed pumpkin to fresh herbs and beets.
Basic Hummus Recipe
- 1 (15-ounce) can of chickpeas
- ¼ cup tahini (or smooth peanut butter)
- 1 large lemon, juiced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 2—3 tbsp water
- ½ tsp ground cumin (optional)
- Salt to taste
In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, tahini, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice until creamy. Add water as needed to reach the desired consistency. Add cumin, salt to taste, and serve with your favorite veggie spears.
2. Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip with Cucumber Slices
Like hummus, Greek yogurt ranch dip is as easy to make as it is tooth-friendly and nutritious. Alongside promoting digestive health, plain yogurt can greatly contribute to the health of your mouth and teeth. Research has indicated that eating yogurt is associated with healthy gums and a reduction of bad breath (known as halitosis). This may be because active cultures help inhibit the oral bacteria that cause bad breath and cavities. Like other forms of dairy, yogurt is also rich in calcium and phosphorous, two minerals which help keep your tooth enamel strong and healthy.
Like carrots and celery, cucumbers are rich with fiber and are crunchy, which creates a scrubbing action on your teeth while encouraging saliva production.
Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip Recipe
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tsp dried parsley
- ½ tsp dried dill weed
- ½ tsp onion powder or dried onion flakes
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp dried chives
- ¼ tsp sea salt
Mix dry ingredients in your serving dish or a container. Stir in yogurt and mix until well combined. Serve immediately, or seal in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator overnight. If serving with cucumber slices, peel off some of the cucumber skin in thin strips, to create a striped effect before slicing.
3. Coconut Chocolate Bark
If you’re looking to make a special sweet that’s also kind to your teeth, coconut chocolate bark is one of the easiest tooth-friendly recipes to make. A melt-in-the-mouth treat, the base of coconut chocolate bark is usually made by blending melted coconut oil with cacao powder—which both offer oral health benefits. Coconut oil and coconut butter contain lauric acid, a fatty acid that helps fight the oral bacteria that cause bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease, while the polyphenols in cacao and cocoa can help reduce the formation of the biofilm that causes cavities. And because it literally melts in your mouth, chocolate is often a better choice for your teeth than hard, sticky, or sour candies, whose sugars and acids “stick” to the surface of your teeth.
Though this rich chocolatey treat packs many health benefits, it still contains sugar. Cacao and cocoa are generally too bitter for most people to enjoy, which is why this chocolate bark is sweetened with maple syrup or honey. Enjoyed in moderation, this chocolate bark can be made ahead of time, and dressed with the spices and toppings of your choosing for your next holiday gathering.
Coconut Chocolate Bark Recipe
- ⅔ cup coconut oil (or coconut butter), melted
- ⅔ cup finely ground cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)
- ⅓ cup maple syrup or honey
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- Spices (optional): 1 drop peppermint oil, or 1 tsp ginger or cardamom
- Topping ideas (optional): chopped walnuts, unsweetened coconut flakes, almond slices
While you melt the coconut oil in a small pan over low heat, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk in the remaining ingredients, except for your chosen toppings, until silky smooth and well combined. Slowly pour the mixture onto your prepared baking sheet, then sprinkle your topping of choice across the surface. Refrigerate for at least half an hour or overnight. Once set and solid, break into shards and store in the fridge until your holiday gathering.
At First Dental Associates, we love our holiday parties as much as the next person! To keep your smile party-ready and to pick up more of our favorite holiday tips and tooth-friendly recipes, contact our office to schedule your next appointment today.