As the temperature climbs, the kernels become excited and soon begin to pop and jump around. As they morph into their final yellowish, parachute-looking state, you know that an adventure in deliciousness awaits you – a heaping helping of popcorn. While it’s a favorite treat of millions of people, it turns out that it can be harmful for your oral health and potentially lead to a dental emergency. Here are 3 reasons why you may want to reconsider eating popcorn.
#1 – The Acidity Can Harm Your Teeth
While lactic acid naturally occurs in the body, especially after invigorating muscle exertion, it is foreign to the mouth. That’s because your mouth and acids don’t particularly mix well. Unfortunately, when you snack on popcorn, you can expect a lactic acid buildup that can lead to enamel damage. This leaves an open invitation to bacteria (which are always present) to penetrate beneath the protective enamel and enter the sensitive dentin area, causing a cavity to form.
#2 – The Popcorn Hull Can Get Lodged
The popcorn hull makes up the thin coating around the kernel. When prepared, popcorn still maintains small pieces of the hull attached.
Likely, you’re familiar with having the hull stuck between your teeth or under your gum. With a little effort, brushing and flossing will free it from your mouth. If some popcorn particles are left between your teeth, it can result in advanced decay that requires complex treatment to correct.
#3 – Unpopped Kernels Can Do Major Damage
Normally, when you get to the bottom of a bag of popcorn, you’ll run into some unpopped kernels. Sometimes, you’ll unknowingly crunch on one. While the sudden force can break the kernel, it can also crack a tooth, a painful and emergent situation that you want to avoid at all costs.
Alternative Snack Options
Here are a few healthy alternatives to eating traditional popcorn that still provide some crunchiness:
- Kale chips
- Apple chips
- Seaweed chips
- Green bean fries
- Cauliflower popcorn
If you still choose to occasionally enjoy some traditional popcorn, it’s best to take the appropriate precautions. For starters, you should pay attention to each bite to make sure you’re not risking cracking a tooth. It’s also important to thoroughly brush and floss around 30 minutes after your last bite. This will ensure that your dental hygiene efforts won’t damage your teeth.
When it comes to your oral health, knowing better is just the start. The next step is implementation. By being more proactive, you can look forward to maintaining a healthy and functional smile!
About the Author
Dr. Jeffrey Sprout earned his dental degree from the University of Colorado School of Dentistry. For over two decades, he has been providing the absolute best in dental care to patients of all ages. To stay abreast of the changing complexities in the dental world, Dr. Sprout takes several hours of continuing education annually. He provides preventive and restorative care at Evergreen Dental Group, and he can be reached for more information or to schedule a visit through his website.