After 4 decades in practice San Francisco Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD can’t even count the number of times he has treated a dental emergency that was a result of an “eating mishap.” Most of the time that patient tells me “I was just eating salad or a sandwich when I noticed a piece of my tooth missing or I bit down and realized the crunch was actually a part of my tooth.” Unless a tooth is already VERY compromised it was not the lettuce, tomato, turkey or piece of cheese that inflicted the damaging blow, but rather a more substantial food that cracked that tooth. Be aware when you eat. That crouton while very delicious might be harder than you think. Did you really make sure to wash all of the sand out of that organic spinach that you bought at the farmers market? It’s often the unexpected food that deals the most damaging blow to our teeth. That said, there are foods and habits that wreak havoc on our teeth. We have put together the top 5 dental work and tooth offenders based our dental team’s years of restorative dental experience.
- POPCORN: Popcorn is actually healthy snack for your body. It is high in fiber; truly a whole grain; contains antioxidants and polyphenols. While they are innocent enough in their overall fluffy and puffy state and low in calories as a bonus, popcorn is the classic dental destroyer. Did you know that its dangers go beyond the accidental crunching of an un-popped corn kernel? The hull of the corn which is actually one of the healthiest parts can actually become lodged between the tooth and the gum tissue. Most of the time its presence is immediately noticed and very irritating so quickly removed. But sometimes it can become lodged and if left undisturbed its decay can cause cavities, abscess, and tooth loss. Believe it not that little translucent piece of the corn and can also shift your bite and change your smile and lead to your investment in a dental crown or dental implant.
Teeth are most likely to break when in the process of eating something expected to be soft, turns out to be surprisingly hard and the force of impact overcomes the integrity of the tooth. “Wow! The number of times I have seen a perfectly healthy tooth without decay or even a filling crack in half because of a corn kernel is staggering,” says Dr. Loev. Enjoy your popcorn just make sure to take it slow and to floss or if needed use a rubber tip gum stimulator, water-jet or dental pick after your done to remove any hidden remnants.
- OLIVES: Olives are another healthy food. Olives are very high in vitamin E and other powerful antioxidants. Studies even show that they are good for the heart, and may protect against osteoporosis and cancer. While the olive itself is a winner in the food hierarchy its pit is not. Olive pits are a close second to corn kernels when it comes to dental damage. Don’t think that you are safe because you prefer the pit-less olives. Poor food processing ( in the factory) or failure to recognize that the olive mix that looked so good at the deli, in fact, isn’t completely pitted, break teeth in the same manner as popcorn kernels do. It is very common for people to expect that they are biting down on something soft when a residual pit or whole pit takes them by surprise. Martinis are deluxe but make sure that that’s a pimento or garlic clove in your olive and not a pit.
- BAGUETTES, HARD PRETZELS, BISCOTTI: Most people love crunchy food. We are no exception. Ironically, as an office, we made a New Year’s Resolution to try and eat healthier, and for some of us lose some weight in 2018. We found research that indicates that hard crunchy food can actually help people eat less. One study suggests that you'll eat less if you're more aware of the noise your food makes while you're chomping away—a concept the researchers have coined the crunch effect. Cool, huh? However, please be aware: hard crunchy foods are hard and crunchy. Our tooth enamel is the hardest substance in our body but hard food might just be harder. Teeth, especially those that have large fillings are especially susceptible to fracture when being confronted by something hard and dense.
If you think before you eat you can often avoid most unnecessary dental grief. Take small bites and think about what teeth you are chewing with. Do you have “virgin teeth” (teeth with no cavities or decay) on one side but a ton of fillings on the other? Choose the strongest side. With the Super Bowl approaching in just a few weeks remember to avoid chewing bones (Buffalo chicken wings, ribs…) especially if you have porcelain veneers or extensive dental work.
- CANDY: Frozen Snickers bars, Jawbreakers, Peanut Brittle, Jolly Ranchers (Not just hard but really sticky, ouch)…do I really need to say more? These delicious treats can be especially bad for teeth. It’s not just the sugar in them that can lead to decay but also their hard structure. “I used to cringe when my children brought home candy after going to a birthday party.” Said San Francisco Dentist Dr. Ed Loev. “No, I’m not a Grinch, he smiles but I would just watch them crunching the hard lemon drops and yanking the taffy and Tootsie rolls and pray that I didn’t hear a crack or an ouch!” In addition to the damage of crunching and sticky candy, sucking candies are awful for teeth. The key word on these treats is sucking, as in allowing them to in your mouth as they slowly dissolve and release their sweetness. Don’t bite lolly-pops! Dr. Loev’s grandsons are used to hearing these from both their mom and “Zadee.” It’s really good advice.
It is very common for patients who come to the office with a crown or filling carefully gift wrapped in tissue that is encased in some bright, fluorescent-colored remnant of a chewy treat. DENTAL TIP: Don’t wrap lost dental restorations, night-guards or Invisalign aligners in a napkin or tissue. Apart from dogs eating these parcels the most common thing that we hear from our patents is that they accidentally threw away these valuable items while cleaning out their purse or jacket pocket.
- FOOD PACKAGING & BOTTLES: Your schedule is super tight and you are running from appointment to appointment with no time to stop. You decide to eat on the go and grab a bag of trail mix or a protein bar. You are hungry and bit stressed so instead of slowing down to open your snack you turn to your teeth. Sound familiar? We have even had patients come to the office with cracked teeth after trying to open a bottle with their teeth. Why? Sorry just saying!
Teeth are designed for incising, biting and chewing FOOD and not as personal, built-in Swiss Army Knife. Your teeth are not kitchen tools and while they can be replaced and restored buying a new scissor or bottle opener is much cheaper and less painful. When it comes to proper care of your teeth, common sense is key. So, before you bite into that jawbreaker…just think about its name for a second?
Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD has been practicing dentistry in his Downtown San Francisco dental office for over 4 decades. He has surrounded himself with an amazing team of individuals who are committed to patient care and service. Call them today at 415-392-2072 to set-up a complimentary cosmetic consultation or even just a new patient visit if you are in need/want of a new dentist.