January 19 is National Popcorn Day - Be Sure to Snack Smart
Popcorn can be a low-fat, low-calorie snack, so long as you’re not adding lots of butter, salt, and other toppings. As you’re enjoying it today—and any other day —be sure to care for your teeth.
Don’t eat unpopped kernels, because you run the risk of fracturing or chipping a tooth, which can cause pain and be a dental emergency.
Most of us have experienced getting a popcorn shell stuck between our teeth and gums, which, if left unaddressed, can cause gum inflammation or develop into a gum abscess. Be sure to floss and brush after popcorn to leave your mouth free of harmful debris.
Avoid sugary toppings, like those that are chocolate-covered or caramel-coated. They are worse for your teeth and because they tend to be “sticky,” making it harder to remove the sugars that contribute to cavities.
The best way to enjoy National Popcorn Day is to brush and floss regularly and avoid unpopped kernels.
What Makes Some Snacks Good or Bad for Teeth?
Snacks that are high in sugars or carbohydrates and are acidic are unhealthy for your teeth. “Sticky” snacks that can adhere to your teeth are especially bad, as they increase the chance of causing cavities. Eating too many foods that are high in sugar or carbs give the bacteria in your mouth more “fuel” to cause tooth decay. It’s important to be aware of the food you’re snacking on; if you do treat yourself, be sure you’re doing it in the right way.
Tips for Healthy Snacking
Preventing cavities is the ultimate goal. Here are some tips to protect your teeth from snack foods:
Try swapping out candy, soda, and chips with healthier options like apples, yogurt, and soda.
Brush and floss 30 minutes after eating snacks that are “sticky” or contain high sugar or carbohydrates.
If you can’t brush immediately after, be sure to rinse with water and brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss before bed.
If you happen to eat something unhealthy, limit the time that you’re exposing your teeth to these foods. Instead of drinking a soda or eating chips over a long period of time, or all day, try to drink or eat in a shorter period.
Foods to Avoid
- Citrus fruits
- Processed meats
- Artificial sugar substitutes
Hot to Prevent Cavities
Choose a toothpaste with fluoride and be sure to floss so you can clean the surfaces your toothbrush can’t reach. Lastly, be sure to visit your dentist twice annually for a professional exam or cleaning.
Overall, snacking can be fine for you if you take steps to protect your oral health. Keep in mind which snacks can help promote better oral health and which snacks can impact your oral health negatively. Everything is okay in moderation; limiting sugary or salty snacks and keeping up with a dental care routine will help prevent oral health problems.