Oral & Vision Health Blog

Popcorn and Your Teeth: How to Indulge and Keep Your Smile Healthy

Whether you prefer it salty, sweet, or savory, popcorn is one of the most popular snacks around (it's so well-liked it has its own holiday). In fact, about fifteen billion quarts of popcorn are consumed every year in the United States alone, making it one of our nation’s most enjoyed snack foods. Just think, popcorn has its own button on the microwave - and it's probably the most popular one! 

Before you grab a handful, here are some some things you should consider.

Is popcorn healthy?

Absolutely! When eaten plain, popcorn can be a healthy snack. It is a suitable source of fiber and low in calories. But avoid the butter and sugared flavorings - these add calories and sugars that can be bad for your health and teeth if you indulge a little too much. 

What about my teeth? 

If you've ever eaten popcorn, then you probably already know it is a minefield for your teeth. One minute you’re chewing away and then suddenly, something sharp gets lodged in your mouth. It is the dreaded scenario: a popcorn kernel has gotten stuck in your teeth, and it doesn’t want to come out. But this is worse than an annoyance, it encourages bacteria growth, which can lead to problems such as gingivitis for your teeth and gums. The sugary varieties like caramel and chocolate only make matters worse. Fortunately, you can try a few things to free those stuck popcorn kernels and keep your teeth feeling fresh and healthy.

How to get stuck popcorn out of your teeth.

Brush your teeth, properly!

  • Start by holding your brush at a 45 degree angle near the gum line.
  • Brush for a full two minutes, allowing foam to build up. The foam might help loosen the debris.
  • Swish with water and rinse your mouth out.

Don't forget to floss! Floss might be able to reach where a toothbrush cannot.

  • Position the floss between the teeth where the popcorn is stuck. Carefully work the floss close to the gum.
  • Starting with one tooth, make a c-shape around it using the floss.
  • Move the floss back and forth to loosen the debris.
  • Swish and rinse your mouth out with water.

There is a myth that chewing gum can help dislodge stuck popcorn from your teeth. While it's possible chewing gum (or any other food) could help get rid of a pesky stuck kernel, it's also possible you could drive the kernel further into your teeth, making it harder to get out! So, stick with the above methods to save yourself some frustration. 

However, it is worth noting that chewing gum, specifically sugar-free gum, can help prevent cavities. Xylitol, an ingredient in sugar-free gum, has decay-preventing qualities. After a snack like popcorn, this can reduce plaque.

But all this advice isn't  just for stuck popcorn. Brushing for a full two minutes and flossing to remove food particles should be a part of your daily routine. To maintain good oral and overall health, it is also important to visit the dentist regularly for a cleaning and routine exam. And if you’re worried about dental costs, a good dental insurance plan can help!

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