In the summer months, there are not many better ways to spend time with friends and family than a cookout. Just the thought of Texas brisket and sweet tea is making our mouth’s water. But, being dentists, we are a bit more mindful of what foods we decide to load up on our paper plates.
When enjoying time with your family this summer, make choices your teeth will thank you for.
Here are 5 cookout foods to be aware of:
We know how enjoyable a Corona by the pool can be, but unfortunately, alcohol is one of the biggest culprits, not only to our dental health but to an overall healthy life.
Alcohol causes dehydration and dry mouth, slowing the production of saliva (our mouths natural defense system). This creates a warm atmosphere for bacteria to grow and thrive, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
On top of that, alcohol’s high sugar content can cause tooth and enamel deterioration, leading to a variety of issues like oral pain, tooth loss, infection, and gum disease.
If you are going to have an adult beverage by the pool, we have three suggestions for you:
- Avoid adding sugar to your alcohol (drinks like strawberry daiquiris and pina coladas)
- Drink water (to help replenish saliva)
- Brush your teeth afterward. Don’t let harmful bacteria linger in your mouth
Chips are salty, crunchy, and yes, delicious. The problem with starchy foods like chips or popcorn is that they get stuck between our teeth, get broken down into simple sugars, and feed bacteria. This causes high acidity environment, which can ultimately cause tooth decay.
We get it. What else is supposed to be the side to your hotdog if not chips? Although we’d recommend a nice potato salad, we know that won’t always happen. The key thing to remember after eating chips is to floss to remove the trapped particles before they break down on their own.
Here in Houston, temperatures remain in the 90s for months (don’t get us started on the humidity). And on those hot August afternoons, a cold glass of lemonade can hit the spot.
However, this may be one of the worst things to consume for your teeth as lemons are one of the most acidic foods (foods with low Ph rating). When we consume foods high in acidity, the biggest threat is to our tooth enamel: a protective layer on the outer surface of our teeth that prevents the buildup of plaque, cavities, or tooth decay.
Like everything else here, if you do break down and have an ice-cold glass of lemonade (who could blame you?), we recommend brushing immediately after. May we recommend an ice-cold glass of flavored sparkling water as an alternative?
Speaking of ice..
Many people have a habit of chewing on ice after consuming the beverage it was keeping cool. The rigidness and cold temperature of ice cubes can cause teeth to fracture or to breakdown the surface of the enamel (remember, this is our teeth’s defense system), which could lead to larger dental problems over time.
We get it. We live in Houston so we know that drinks wouldn’t stay cool for long without ice. We don’t recommend avoiding ice in your drinks. We simply want you to stop chewing on it 😉
Fully Loaded Burger:
We saved the best for last. Imagine this: a big juicy burger fresh off the grill, layered between two buns, stacked with toppings like lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, onions, and pickles.
Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? We know.
The problem with your fully loaded burger is that you’ll face a lot of the challenges mentioned already in this article above:
- Highly acidic foods (pickles and tomatoes) causing a breakdown in your enamel
- The break down of refined carbohydrates into simple sugars (a white-bread bun)
So instead of all your usual fixings, we’d recommend a few adjustments. Swap out the white bread for a wheat bun and limit the acidic foods like tomatoes and pickles. Then, as always, be sure to follow up with water and a thorough brushing.
We’ll see you in the fall for your regularly scheduled cleaning 🙂