Here’s a look at 6 things you should be aware of to help your oral health heading into the holiday weekend.
It’s the Fourth of July weekend and picnics and BBQs are everywhere, which means there will usually be plenty of food and drink for everyone. While holidays can be tricky when it comes to not overindulging, it can help to know a little about what is and is not best to consume, as well as advice on what not to try and do when you misplace your bottle opener.
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1. DRINK WATER
Drinking water provides many benefits, especially on a hot sunny day. So while you may be tempted by sweet juice drinks, beer and soda—all favorites at BBQs—it’s important to make sure to alternate drinks with water. This will help keep your teeth clean and protect your tooth enamel, and the calorie-free beverage also fights dry mouth. Additionally, drinking water with fluoride can strengthen your teeth. and the pH normal in your mouth.
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2. CHOOSE SUGARLESS GUM
All day snacking is common at holiday celebrations such as Independence Day, and brushing your teeth may be a tricky task if you’re away from home. A good alternative to clean your teeth in this situation is to chew gum, preferably a sugarless brand. Chewing gum removes food particles and also stimulates saliva production.
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3. EAT HEALTHY FOODS
Foods such as cheese, celery, and onions are often part of the picnic menu this time of year, and all help keep your teeth and mouth healthy. Cheese has been shown to boost dental health and restore enamel thanks to its high levels of calcium and whey protein, but it’s best to stick with natural cheese as processed cheese products like dips and sprays can wear down enamel and increase your chance for cavities. Pickles, on the other hand, are not so good as the vinegar used in the pickling process has acid, and most pickled foods also have sugar.
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4. AVOID HARD FOODS
Chewing on ice is quite common, especially around the Fourth of July when warm weather is common. But the habit can cause dental damage like cracked or chipped teeth, and can also damage your enamel, causing increased sensitivity to hot and cold and increasing your risks of tooth decay. Other hard foods such as pretzels can cause similar problems. If a pretzel should be unusually hard (possibly stale), try softening it with a dip. But keep in mind snacks like crackers and pretzels—even when soft—can be bad for your teeth because starchy foods stick to your teeth and can encourage the growth of plaque.
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5. DON'T ATTEMPT TO OPEN BOTTLES WITH YOUR TEETH
This may seem like common sense, but we’ve all be at a celebration before where someone may have displayed a lack of common sense. When someone wants another beer or any bottled drink and the bottle opener disappears, people have been known to use their teeth in an effort to quench that thirst. Please don’t!
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6. DON’T OVER DO IT WITH THE BREAD, HOT DOG BUNS
The Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest is an annual hot dog competitive eating competition held each year on July 4th. Not sure how eating more hot dogs makes you more patriotic, but it’s a popular event nonetheless. But since your hot dogs are typically placed inside a hot dog bun, it should be noted that when you chew bread, your saliva breaks down the starches into sugar, and so it’s transformed into a gummy substance that sticks to the crevices between teeth. This can lead to cavities, so you should aim for less-refined varieties like whole wheat. These contain less added sugars, aren’t as easily broken down, and therefore can help cut down on both calories and damage to your teeth.