How to reduce the impact on your oral health
National Junk Food Day is July 21, 2023. If you choose to celebrate, we have some things you should watch out for, because junk food lives up to its name when it comes to oral health.
If you’re indulging your sweet tooth on National Junk Food Day, be aware that most candies are not friendly to your teeth. In general, avoid sweets that are sticky, stay in your mouth for an extended time or bathe your teeth in sugar. Sweets like caramels, licorice and gummies are some of the worst offenders when it comes to impacting your teeth. These can stick to your teeth, ruin dental work and cause tooth decay.
We also recommend avoiding hard candies such as lollipops and jawbreakers, which can chip or break your teeth. These items are designed to stay in your mouth for an extended period of time, which means your teeth are bathing in sugar as these treats dissolve. Dark chocolate (in small amounts) is one of the safer treats you can have. It dissolves quickly and is often lower in sugar in comparison to milk chocolate.
Soft drinks are another source of sugar, which we describe as a “greatest hits” of damage to your teeth. They’re full of sugar, acid and carbonation, which all eat away at the enamel. Because of their high sugar content, it’s very easy, especially in the summer, to consume a lot of them.
Salty treats may be your chosen way to recognize national junk food day, but they have their own impacts on your oral health. Salt causes you to get thirsty and it’s easy to pair salty foods like chips and pretzels with a soda or alcoholic beverage. We’ve already described how dangerous sodas are, but alcoholic beverages can contain lots of sugar (i.e. mixers like soda, syrup or juice), carbonation and some can lead to dry mouth. Additionally, hard foods like chips, nuts, pretzels and popcorn can also be the cause of a cracked or broken tooth.
The key to celebrating National Junk Food Day is moderation. It is ok to have all of the above in small amounts, but make sure you drink lots of water and maintain a good oral health routine – don’t forget to brush and floss!