It can seem harmless, and even innocent. A small cough drop for a sore throat, popcorn at the movie theater or ice cubes found at the bottom of a soda cup. But it’s the little things when we’re not paying attention that wreaks havoc on beautiful smiles. Here are five of the worst food offenders that can fracture or crack teeth and result in an unexpected and inconvenient emergency.
- Popcorn – Whether at home, at the movies or a sporting event, who can resist the smell of freshly popped corn? But lurking within that bucket of popped corn are hard unpopped kernels which can crack or even fracture a sturdy tooth. These unpopped time bombs do even a better job of splitting teeth weakened by fillings. I’m not advocating that you give up popcorn altogether (going to the movies would almost be pointless!) but try to eat a few at a time rather than by the handful. Since popcorn with heavier kernels tend to fall to the bottom of the bag be mindful as you near the bottom that you’re getting closer to potential after hours trip to the dentist if you are not careful. (Incidentally, a common emergency in our office concerns a popcorn husk becoming lodged under the gum resulting in a painful soreness that gets worse with time.)
- Cough drops – Now that cooler weather is on the way, colds and the flu season is sure to follow. If your throat is achy or scratchy, be sure to use a cough drop with the least amount of “stick” factor. It’s easy to assume that cough drops are there to make us feel better so they must be okay to use frequently. Most have a lot of sugar and can easily stick to dental work including crowns and bridges when biting down resulting in dislodged restorations and even tooth fracture.
- Olive pits – Salads generally are quite healthy but the unpitted olives hidden within the greens can be a problem. Issues with pits begin when people at a salad bar or a restaurant fail to recognize that olives they’re mindlessly chewing contain pits. If you love olives, try the ones with stuffed pimentos or the pitted versions instead.
- Chewy and hard candy – Candy can be a wonderful treat but unfortunately this type of candy not only is loaded with decay causing sugar but also contributes to tooth cracks and fractures as well as pulling off dental work like cough drops. Obviously, try to limit your consumption of sticky candy like caramels, taffy, Milk Duds or even gum (or just give it up entirely). Hard candy can be tough on natural teeth, too. Some offenders include Jolly Ranchers, Tootsie Pops, Jawbreakers and Sour Balls. If your sweet tooth is irresistible, try a piece of dark chocolate, preferably one without Just let it melt on your tongue to minimize contact with your teeth. Since accidents do happen, if a restoration pops off be careful not to swallow or inhale it. If possible place it in a small non crushable container such as a film canister or small jewelry box or a small jar with a lid. Do not wrap it in tissue or a napkin since invariably they are accidently thrown out. Call our office at 248-356-8790 and schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
- Using your teeth as tools – Packaging has become increasingly tougher, and more secure. Bags of chips and bottles of soda pop are now secured tighter than Fort Knox. Sometimes out of (frustration it’s tempting to use tools that are pretty handy – our teeth. But this habit has to be the number one culprit behind cracked and chipped teeth.
Keep a bottle opener or a pair of scissors handy to open plastic packaging. Bottom line – this can save a lot of heart ache not to mention a lot of wear and tear on those pearly whites.
At Dr. Mark Langberg’s DDS, PA, we’re here for you in the event of any dental emergency. The one thing we don’t want our patients to do is to put off an appointment with us. The longer you wait to correct a tooth fracture or a cracked tooth, the worse you’ll feel. Generally, fractures or cracks left untreated can become sensitive. The longer you wait the more likely bacteria will find its way either in-between or directly inside the tooth and no one wants that.
For all your dental emergencies, contact the office of Dr. Mark Langberg. When you keep your natural teeth in tip-top shape, the better you’ll feel.
Until Next Time,
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD
Your Southfield Family Dentist
Tel: (248) 356-8790