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Every part of your mouth plays a part in oral health

The holidays and colder weather provide perfect excuses to stay inside, enjoy a snack and watch movies. When it comes to oral health, are your movie snacks praised or slammed by the experts? Here’s our review.

Watching movies at home has health advantages over going to the theater. You’re not likely to gorge on giant tubs of fatty butter-flavored popcorn, oversized candies or a jumbo soda. 

These snacks earn rave reviews!

In addition to more sensible portions, you can choose healthier options at home than you’ll find at the theater. For instance, crunchy fruits and veggies are a good choice for keeping teeth and gums clean. Try them with Greek yogurt dips, which you can make by adding dry ranch dressing mix to plain Greek yogurt for a savory vegetable dip or combining the yogurt with cinnamon, nutmeg and chopped nuts for an easy-to-prepare fruit dip. These dips will add extra flavor and teeth-strengthening calcium to your snack. Speaking of calcium, cheese is another source of this key mineral for your smile.

Satisfy your urge to crunch with protein-packed nuts that help prevent tooth decay. Or if you crave something salty, crispy zucchini chips provide a healthy alternative to high-carb foods that can cause cavities. You can also try our recipe for spicy roasted chickpeas that combine a nutty taste with teeth-strengthening phosphorus.

For a sweet treat, plain dark chocolate has less sugar than milk or white chocolate and washes off teeth easier. When it comes to washing down snacks, drink water, milk or green tea. Water is sugar-free and rinses food from teeth. Like other dairy products, milk is high in calcium. Green tea can kill bacteria before it damages teeth and contains antioxidants that help prevent oral cancer.

Some snacks receive negative reviews. 

Unlike dark chocolate, most candy draws poor reviews due to high sugar content. While chocolate covered raisins may be a classic movie candy, they’re sugary and sticky, so they can get caught in teeth and cause damage. Starchy snacks like potato chips and crackers can also get trapped between teeth, where they convert to sugar and can cause tooth decay.

Sipping soda throughout a movie can coat teeth with cavity-causing sugar and acids that wear away tooth enamel. Those acids make even diet soda a poor choice. Dark-colored sodas can also discolor teeth. Alcohol can also be hard on your smile, as it can wear down enamel and lead to cavities because most alcohol has a high sugar content and causes dry mouth.

If you chill beverages with ice, resist chewing on it. You can damage your teeth’s enamel, loosen a crown and chip, crack or break a tooth. A dental emergency would definitely keep movie night from having a happy ending!

Popcorn gets mixed reviews.

On the positive side, this ultimate movie snack is a whole grain that’s high in filling fiber. Consumed in moderation, it has fewer carbs and calories than many salty snacks.

If you do enjoy popcorn, avoid unpopped kernels, which can crack teeth and damage dental restorations. Also, watch out for hulls that can get trapped under the gums and cause an abscess. Always brush and floss after eating popcorn. Be careful if you remove popcorn using a toothpick, as you could injure your gums. 

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