How to Protect Your Teeth at the Movies

Popcorn at the MoviesThe weekend is almost upon us. That means many of us will spend time with friends and loved ones, perhaps taking in a movie. While movies are a great way to kick back after a long week at work, the foods we typically eat at the movies can wreak havoc on our oral health. Soda and popcorn contribute to tooth decay and other oral health problems. The following is a list of ways to help prevent your fun night at the movies from turning into a not-so-fun visit to the dentist.

Soda and Enamel Erosion

The acids commonly found in soda and energy drinks contribute to the erosion of tooth enamel. Enamel is the hard, outer layer of a tooth that protects the soft, inner layer from decay. As the acids from your favorite fountain drink wash over your teeth, they strip away this enamel, putting your teeth at risk of developing cavities.

The best way to prevent enamel erosion is to avoid highly acidic drinks altogether. If you do choose to imbibe, here is a list of ways to limit damage to your teeth.

  • Order your fountain drink with a straw. A straw will help direct liquid to the back of your mouth and prevent acid from coming into contact with your teeth.
  • Rinse your mouth with water after you finish your drink. This will help wash any acid away from the surfaces of your teeth. Excuse yourself from the movie and find the nearest water fountain. Your teeth will thank you later.
  • Chew sugarless gum to increase saliva production. Saliva helps keep your mouth clean by washing away food particles and neutralizing acid in your mouth, thus preventing cavities.

Popcorn and Your Teeth

Popcorn is a delicious snack and an American tradition at the movies. People have munched on popcorn since the early days of film, when crowds packed local music halls to see the latest Charlie Chaplin flick. Despite the seemingly harmless nature of this innocent snack, popcorn poses a serious risk to your oral health.

Popcorn is a starch filled with carbohydrates that feed the harmful, cavity causing bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria secrete acids that erode enamel and cause cavities. There are several physical hazards to eating popcorn, as well. Un-popped kernels at the bottom of your bag can cause teeth to break if unexpectedly chomped on. Teeth with large fillings, or that have undergone a root canal, are weak and can break easily. The husk of popped kernels can also slip between the gums and roots of a tooth. This can lead to painful periodontal abscesses, which are pockets of puss formed when impacted food causes infection.

Here are a few tips to help minimize the damage of popcorn to your oral health this weekend.

  • Carefully check each handful of popcorn for un-popped kernels before consumption. This will help you limit the chances of accidently breaking a tooth. Remember, popcorn is best when savored, not hastily devoured.
  • Use a toothpick to help clear any popcorn husks from the crevices of your teeth during the movie. Brushing and flossing work best, but discretion is difficult in a crowded theater.
  • Once again, sugarless gum is your friend. After using your toothpick, chew some gum to help remove any remaining popcorn particles from your teeth.

Schedule an Appointment

Even brushing and flossing after the movies will only go so far. Regular six-month dental cleanings are an important part of every good oral hygiene routine. To schedule your next appointment with Dr. Calcagno, call our Rochester dentist office at (507) 281-3659. We serve patients from Rochester, Red Wing, St. Charles, Winona, Farmington, and the surrounding communities.