Smile-Friendly Foods at the First Thanksgiving

Colonial America was a tough time for teeth. Dentistry hadn’t yet formed into a medical discipline and the causes of tooth decay were still a mystery. Many Puritans began losing teeth at a young age. Fortunately for the self-conscious, smiling wasn’t exactly encouraged among our somber forefathers.

On the other hand, Puritans ate a fairly teeth-friendly diet. Here is a list of some of the oral health-promoting foods served at the First Thanksgiving.


Yes, turkey was there at the original Thanksgiving table, but it wasn’t the bird we are used to. Instead, Puritans and Native Americans feasted upon wild turkey—a slenderer bird with tougher, gamier meat. Turkeys weren’t the only birds on the table either. Historians believe they also served geese, ducks, swans, and plenty of the now-extinct passenger pigeon.

Poultry is good for your teeth. It contains Vitamins B2, B3, and B12, all of which contribute to good oral health. Turkey is also high in phosphorous, which is important for tooth development.

Lobster, Shellfish, and Clams

While seafood may not be a traditional addition to the modern Thanksgiving table, it made up a significant portion of the Puritans’ diet. Plymouth Bay yielded an abundance of fresh seafood that provided much needed minerals. Squanto, a Patuxet Native American, didn’t just teach Puritans how to cultivate corn. He also taught them to catch and consume eels and other seafood. If you haven’t added seafood to your Thanksgiving menu, you may want to consider it. Seafood is rich in Omega 3s, a powerful anti-inflammatory that can ward off gum disease and boost brainpower.


The Wampanoag ate a steady diet of chestnuts, walnuts, and beechnuts. These nuts provided healthy fats and calories, which were greatly needed to survive New England’s harsh winter. Nuts make a great appetizer for hungry Thanksgiving guests. They are also packed with inflammation-busting fatty acids that will keep your gums healthy and your teeth strong.


While pumpkin pie is stuffed with unhealthy sugars, baked or roasted pumpkin makes a delicious side dish with plenty of zinc for your teeth. A lack of zinc in the diet can cause a variety of serious health conditions, including memory problems, hair loss, and bone loss. It can also weaken your teeth, which need zinc to stay strong. In addition, pumpkin has magnesium, which also supports your teeth, bones, and hair.