5 Worst Summer Cookout Foods for Your Teeth

Summer cookouts and barbecues are full of family memories just waiting to be made, but don’t make this summer’s most notable BBQ recollection an emergency trip to the dentist. Chipped teeth, unsightly stains that undo your most recent teeth whitening and foods that are delicious but contribute to decay and bad breath are just some of the perils that await at the picnic table. Skip the pain and embarrassment by avoiding these top five offenders at the next family cookout.

1. Potato Chips

Starchy, salty and crunchy, this snack is a cookout staple. Still, it’s better to skip the chips — your teeth and your waistline will both thank you. The starch that makes up these savory snacks is broken down into sugar, which contributes to the bacteria that fuel plaque production. If that wasn’t bad enough, the “can’t stop at just one” nature of potato chips means you’re more likely to keep snacking over a prolonged period of time. This causes your body to produce an acidic environment in your mouth to help break down the chips. A prolonged acid bath can cause major damage to your smile!

The bad news doesn’t stop there, though: the sharp, jagged edges of some chips (particularly sturdier ones, like baked varieties) can cut and damage your gums. Not only is this painful, but it gives harmful bacteria an “in.” Opt instead for veggies with dip to satisfy your cravings for a crunchy, salty summer barbecue snack.

2. Dessert Salads

Whether you prefer Ambrosia salad, classic fruit salad or Watergate salad, these sweet treats are dangerous for your teeth. The high sugar content adds to the bacterial load in your mouth and contributes to plaque — potentially triggering tooth decay and bad breath. If that weren’t enough, many fruit-based dessert salads contain citrus fruits with high acid contents. And dessert salads that use whipped cream or gelatin as a base can stick around longer than their plain fruit or syrupy counterparts, leading to longer acid exposure and more time for bacteria to digest the sugars.

Choose plain fruit or fruit dipped in yogurt for a sweet indulgence that’s a healthy summer cookout alternative and save yourself time spent in the dentist’s chair.

3. Berries

But wait, fruit is healthy, right? It sure is! Unfortunately, berries are a major offender when it comes to staining your teeth. Whether your berry of choice is the humble, tart blueberry or the sweet, seemingly innocuous strawberry or something more adventurous like blackberries or boysenberries, steer clear of these sweet fruits if you’ve just had a teeth-whitening treatment.  

The juice from the berries can undo all the hard work you and your dentist put into getting your smile dazzlingly white.

Because berries are a healthy food to chow down on at your family cookout, by all means keep eating them. Just exercise moderation to reduce the potential damage from their sugar content. Keep stains at bay by sipping water as you snack and rinse your mouth afterward.  

4. Corn on the Cob

One of America’s favorite cookout side dishes, corn on the cob is delicious. And it’s a vegetable. What could go wrong, right? The slick, outer skin of corn kernels slides off and can get stuck between your teeth — it happens so quickly and so easily that you might not even notice it until later. And that’s where the problem starts: the longer it sits between your teeth, the longer bacteria have to feed on the sugars in it — and corn is a high sugar vegetable. The spaces between your teeth are prime cavity territory, and hidden reminders of the corn on the cob you ate earlier in the day contribute to that. The hard cob can loosen or crack previous dental work, and those with braces will have a nightmarish time with wires and brackets — just one more stellar reason to see if Invisalign is an option for you! Picking with a toothpick to dislodge stuck corn can cause damage to sensitive teeth and irritation to gums.

Experiment with grilling other vegetables like asparagus or carrots. If corn is the only grilled vegetable for you, be ready to floss after eating it to clear out any remnants hiding in the nooks and crannies of your mouth.

5. Barbecue Sauce

It’s hardly a cookout without something barbecue-flavored, but the sauce that gives foods its signature flavor is a double whammy for your teeth. To get the sweet tang of barbecue sauce, sugar and vinegar are combined. As you well know, sugar contributes to bacteria-causing plaque. And vinegar, an acid, comes with its own set of problems.

Because this is one of summertime’s most ubiquitous flavoring choices, it’s hard to avoid. Don’t overdo it, and be sure to drink plenty of water to offset the potential effects of barbecue sauce on your teeth.  

Summertime Barbecue Foods and Your Teeth

From acid damage because of barbecue sauce to staining from berries, from sugary fruits causing cavities or hidden corn kernels creating discomfort, so many of the foods we love the most during summertime cookouts can wreak havoc on our teeth. Making mindful choices and paying attention to the effects of cookout foods on our teeth can help mitigate some of the damage. That said, regular dentist visits can help you keep your teeth in tip-top shape this summer.

Focusing on toning a bikini-ready body isn’t the only thing you can do to prepare for summer: booking a cleaning and whitening treatment to get your smile summer ready is a must. The office of Drs. Krieger and Hur have made it easy to get in shape for the season. Simply call the office at 201-560-0606 or send us an email by clicking here to secure your spot today.

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