During the holiday season, pumpkin can be found in almost every restaurant and coffee shop. We’ve got pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, and the list goes on and on. While not every pumpkin-flavored treat is healthy or braces-friendly, did you know that real pumpkin is actually a nutrient-dense food that can contribute to good oral health?
Superstar Vitamins and Minerals
Pumpkin contains a TON of awesome vitamins and minerals like zinc, which helps wounds heal more quickly and repair damaged tissues in your mouth. This is especially helpful for orthodontic patients, who may experience chafing or other discomforts from new brackets. Other benefits of pumpkin include vitamin A, which aids in the flow of saliva, and vitamin C, which helps keep your immune system strong enough to fight off infections. Pumpkins also contain magnesium, which works together with calcium to build strong tooth enamel and prevent cavities!
We love our classic pumpkin spice treats in the fall. The spices used to create this iconic flavor also carry some great health benefits! Cinnamon contains antioxidants to boost your immune system, as well as anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe irritation that braces can sometimes cause. Another important spice in pumpkin flavor is clove, which also contains many vitamins and nutrients. One study even found that clove’s antimicrobial properties may help prevent against gum disease! How great is that?
Eat the Real Thing
While all of these health benefits are awesome, it is important to remember that you can only get all of these benefits if you are eating actual pumpkin or the real spices. Treats like pumpkin spice lattes often contain no actual pumpkin and a LOT of sugar, which can damage your teeth and your braces. Be sure to keep avoiding foods that aren’t safe for braces, even in all the holiday excitement. This includes foods like pumpkin seeds or pumpkin spice flavored gum. Instead, treat yourself to delicious, easy to chew options like homemade pumpkin pie, pumpkin smoothies (try combining coconut milk, pumpkin, almond butter, and pumpkin spice!), pumpkin soup, or baked pumpkin.
This holiday season, make your favorite pumpkin spice treats work for you and your braces! Be sure to brush and floss after every meal to keep your teeth and braces clean, and enjoy your holidays!