30 Jul Tough on Teeth
Four of the Worst Summer Foods for Your Dental Health
It’s summer, and most people would rather spend a day at the beach than getting a cavity filled. You’d rather use this precious time at the pool, or grilling with your family, or soaking in basically any summer tradition. But unfortunately, when we slack on protecting our teeth in the summer, the dentist’s chair is exactly where we’ll end up.
To keep your pearly whites pearly this summer, today we’ll look at the threat that four popular summer foods pose to your teeth. Some of them may not be a surprise, just a timely reminder. Others may catch you off guard. But by limiting your intake of these and other problematic foods, maintaining proper oral hygiene, and seeing the dentist regularly, you can keep your teeth in top shape this summer.
Ice makes the list of foods that are a summer favorite and yet are tough on your teeth. Did this one surprise you? It seems so innocent—no sugar, no carbohydrates, not even any pigmentation! But if you have a habit of eating ice to cool off or drinking down your sweet tea and then crunching the ice from the glass, you may want to think again.
Chewing ice can cause:
- Broken or cracked teeth
- Damage or breakage to crowns, bridges, or partials
- Jaw pain or damage
- Gum pain or damage
The reality is, ice is a harder substance than your teeth really ought to be crunching down on consistently. Imagine if you bit down on a lollipop like that all the time! As health and wellness journalist Corinne O’Keefe Osborn put it, “Your teeth are simply not built for the wear and tear caused by eating bags or trays of ice every day. Over the course of time, you can destroy the enamel on your teeth.”
Destroyed enamel leads to a mouthful of cavities. Another clinic points out that the compromised enamel can cause you to develop greater sensitivity to heat and cold. And if you have any dental work done, such as crowns, veneers, or fillings, crunching ice can quickly ruin that. Though the summer heat makes ice-chewing tempting, it’s best to opt for a slushie instead or a cold drink instead.
2. Barbeque Ribs
There’s no question: barbeque ribs are delicious, and a crowd favorite at every barbeque and dinner table. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean your teeth like them as much as you do. As dentist Frederick Baker told one source, “Barbecued meats, like spare ribs, are some of the worst foods for teeth because of the caramelized sugars used in the sauce.” You may not think it at first due to the smoky flavor, but BBQ sauce is actually packing a big punch when it comes to sugar content. For instance, according to USDA data on one barbeque sauce, there are 15 grams of sugar in just two tablespoons!
It’s not just the caramelized sugars in the sauce that’s the problem. Dr. Baker points out that, “You have the potential to crack your teeth on parts of the meat that may have over-caramelized, and the extra sugar is never good.” On top of all that, the dark color of the sauce has a tendency to stain your teeth. All in all, BBQ ribs may be one of America’s favorites, but they’re not your teeth’s favorite.
3. Trail Mix
Summer means adventure, and adventure needs something to fuel it. We get it—trail mix is an easy go-to snack. But the tasty combination of dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and chocolate can be hard on your teeth.
The main culprit in trail mix is the dried fruit. Vitarelli Dental explains, “So in simple terms, dried fruit has [a greater] amount of sugar and acid content than fresh fruit, both of which are dangerous for the teeth.” Often paired with sugar and acid in dried fruits is high pigmentation due to artificial coloring. Vitarelli Dental noted that the drying process strips the fruit of their natural colors. In an effort to avoid this unappealing look, the companies use artificial colorings, which are prone to discoloring your teeth.
Dentist Jonathan Neman added that when it comes to dried fruit, “Not only are the sugars concentrated, but they are very sticky and sit into the grooves of your molars causing cavities.”
The problems caused by the raisins and other dried fruit in trail mix are only exacerbated by the sugar in the bits of chocolate. And while you might think you could take comfort with the nice pumpkin or sunflower seeds in your favorite brand of trail mix, think again. Dr. Neman explained, “Many seeds required cracking them open with our front teeth, easily causing chipping of the edges of our front teeth.”
All in all, trail mix isn’t a bad snack, and it’s certainly good for an energy boost, but be sure to enjoy it in moderation.
4. Corn on the Cob
As delicious as the food itself is, everyone knows the feeling of having corn stuck in your teeth after taking down a piece of buttery, salty corn on the cob. You may think it’s just an unpleasant sensation (and a little embarrassing if it’s visible), but corn stuck in your teeth is a feast for plaque! And plaque, we remember, is the sticky biofilm that serves as the precursor to everyone’s favorite—cavities. Furthermore, corn lodged under your gums will cause inflammation, something nobody wants.
If you have weak teeth, braces, or many implants or fillings, you are recommended to avoid corn on the cob. Eating it could dislocate the fillings or even chip your teeth! If you don’t want to stay away from it entirely, try at least cutting it off the cob to reduce the chances of it getting caught in your teeth or braces.
You should always brush after a meal, and floss at minimum once a day, but when it comes to corn, there’s no excuses. Your best bet to avoid inflammation or a feast for plaque is to make sure you brush and floss after you eat it so that nothing gets left behind.
Protect Those Pearly Whites
You’d rather spend your summer in the pool than getting a cavity filled or worse—a root canal. We understand that. That’s why we want to equip you to protect your oral health now, before things get to that point.
We realize that one barbeque rib will not cause your teeth to rapidly decay; neither will the occasional snack of trail mix. These foods aren’t evil, but it is important to think about what the foods we eat are doing to our teeth. Protecting your teeth should be a priority; they’re the only natural set you’ll have.
If you have questions about how to maintain oral health this summer or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact our office at (229) 725-4545.