A lot of what we love about the summer includes the return of many of our favorite treats. From scrumptious pies at the family cookout to enjoying an ice cold soda on a hot day, the summer months are filled with delicious foods and drinks.
Have you ever wondered how some of these popular treats may be affecting your teeth though? At the Center for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery we know the damage that cavities and tooth decay can have on your teeth. Unfortunately, some of our favorite summer snacks, desserts and sides are especially good at promoting the growth of bacteria and the formation of cavities. While no food is capable of causing any major damage when enjoyed infrequently, some foods are more likely than others to promote the growth of bacteria among teeth. When these foods are enjoyed on a regular basis (like week after week during the summer) your chances of experiencing tooth decay rise. Keep reading for some summer foods that we suggest enjoying in moderation because of the potential damage they can cause your teeth. Remember that proper dental hygiene is especially important after indulging in any of these treats.
Potato and tortilla chips are solid staples at practically any summer barbeque or get-together. These crunchy, salty, dippable treats are snacked upon by adults and children of all ages at all occasions each summer. While chips are definitely tasty, they’re not exactly the best snack for your teeth. The starchiness of potato chips is part of why we love them, but when this starch is broken down into sugar it helps produce plaque-causing bacteria in your mouth. Also, since we’re likely to snack on chips over a period of time (because who can have just one?) your mouth responds by producing an acidic environment to more easily break down food. Lastly, some chips, especially tortilla chips, have sturdy and sharp edges that can cut your gums. No one likes a painful surprise when they’re eating, but even a small cut on the inside of your mouth can make it easier for bacteria to grow and spread.
You may think of hard candy as a safer option than sticky, chewy candy because it doesn’t seem to get stuck between your teeth as easily. While this may be true, hard candies still pose their own risks to your teeth. Hard candies dissolve much slower than chewy or chocolatey candies, giving bacteria more time to grow. Also, accidentally biting down too forcefully on hard candy can result in chipping or breaking a tooth!
It’s important to make sure you stay hydrated in the summer heat and on a hot day, nothing sounds better than cracking an ice cold can of a bubbly beverage. However, not only does soda do little to help with keeping you hydrated, it’s also a common culprit behind cavities. The sugars, acids and artificial coloring found within sodas can wear away at your tooth enamel and promote bacteria growth. Soda is definitely a summer treat that you should enjoy in moderation.
If you’re trying to avoid damage caused by sodas you may think sticking to sports drinks will be a safe enough option, however, these beverages are not without risks either. Although sports drinks are often marketed as being healthier than juices and sodas, these beverages still contain a lot of acids and sugars. Since many people see these beverages as being on the ‘healthier’ side, they are more likely to drink these on a regular basis. The acids and sugars in sports drinks can cause just as much, if not more, damage to your teeth as sodas, so it’s best to hold these in the same regard and enjoy in moderation.
Corn on the Cob
Corn on the cob is a favorite among backyard grillers and often seen as a healthier side option at summer parties. While corn on the cob is better for you in many ways than some other summer fare, it’s not always the best for your teeth. If you’ve ever eaten corn on the cob then you know how easy it is for it to get stuck in every nook and cranny in your mouth. Food trapped between teeth provides the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and cavities to form, and the longer it stays there the longer it has to spread. If you do enjoy this summer food then just be prepared to floss immediately after. Not only will this save you from any awkward moments, but it will help prevent bacteria growth.
What’s a dessert table without pie? Whether fruit-filled, custard, meringue or other sweet filling, pie is a summer staple. While it is a summer favorite, pie is not ideal for your teeth. Not only are pies loaded with sugar, but many of the fillings contain sticky ingredients like caramel or molasses. These sticky fillings make it easy for bacteria-causing sugar to hang around and in between your teeth.
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with these foods in moderation. It’s perfectly okay for your teeth if you enjoy a slice of pie for dessert after partaking in some corn on the cob, soda and chips at your next family party. These foods will only become risky if you enjoy them frequently, especially if you also don’t take proper care of your teeth.
If you do overindulge in these treats you may be more likely to suffer from tooth decay. At the Center for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery we can treat the consequences of tooth decay, whether mild or severe. Our knowledgeable team is here and ready to help answer any of your questions related to tooth extraction, dental implants and more. With summer here we know you’ll be enjoying some of these foods more than usual, but as long as you continue to practice good dental hygiene your summer and your smile won’t be derailed by tooth decay!
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