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Tasty Tailgate Bites that Are Good for Your Mouth

Crisp fall Saturdays in Iowa mean football. And whether you’re a Hawkeye, Cyclone or Panther, partaking in a pre-game tailgate celebration is one of the season’s greatest pastimes.

But before you show up to your next tailgate with a sticky, sugary dish to share, consider one of the delicious options below that are actually good for your teeth.

Dips Are a Big Hit

If a tailgate doesn’t boast a full spectrum of dips, is it really a tailgate? Dips—done the right way—are among the best things for your teeth. Dairy-based dips that feature yogurt, sour cream, mayonnaise or cheese pack teeth-loving calcium. And featuring an array of crunchy fruits and veggies, like apples, cucumbers, baby carrots, bell pepper slices, celery and sugar snap peas, cram even more nutrients in. Snacking produce contains lots of water and stimulates saliva production in your mouth. Crunchy foods also help “scrub” your teeth, giving them an in-a-pinch cleaning.

Savory dairy dips made with herbs like dill or sweet ones featuring Greek yogurt and cinnamon are great options, as long as you keep the sugar content in check.

Looking for a dairy-free option? Hummus and black bean dips beg for veggies for dipping and are packed with protein. For a spin on a classic tailgate favorite, try fruit salsa—pairing sweet apples, peaches or pineapples and a touch of honey with savory bell peppers and jalapeno. Pair with whole-grain crackers or on a slice of pork tenderloin or grilled chicken with a vitamin- and protein-rich bite.  

Simple Snacks that Pack Big Benefits

When prepping for a tailgate spread, sometimes simple is better. Foods that aren’t too messy, can be handheld and are filling without being too complicated are great options. Fortunately, many prime tailgate foods are great for your oral health.

A meat and cheese plate contains a duo of mouth-friendly nutrients: calcium and protein. Nuts are another great, nutritionally dense option. Sharing a nutty homemade granola (hopefully one not packed with sugar) is a unique option and particularly suitable for a morning tailgate when a burger at 8 am just doesn’t hit the spot. 

Keep Things Sweet Sans Sugar

Trays of brownies, cookies and bars are mainstays at tailgate parties, but their sugar content makes them a poor option if you’re keeping your oral health in mind. Fruit is the best substitute because it’s rich in vitamins, and you can jazz it up by pairing fruit kebabs with a calcium-rich dip made from whipped cream or pudding.

Fruit kebobs are easy to eat while conversing with fellow fans. They’re also refreshing, especially early in football season when temperatures can be sky high by game time.

Beer Is on the Menu

If you’re celebrating the return of football season with an alcoholic beverage, avoid sweeter drinks (like cocktails mixed with soda). Lighter beers are a better oral health options because they’re lower in sugar and acid. Another helpful tip is to alternate water between drinks. It will keep you—and your mouth—well hydrated, ensuring you enjoy your pre- and post-game tailgate celebrations.