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June 7, 2021

Can Popcorn Actually Be Harmful to Your Oral Health?

Dentist explaining connection between popcorn and oral health to patient

When it comes to finding healthy snacks, the options are quite extensive. Of course, there’s nothing quite like a bowl of popcorn, especially when it’s free of excessive amounts of butter, salt, or sugar. Unfortunately, while popcorn is generally a safe option for your overall health, it can pose many risks for your oral health that you may not have previously considered. To learn more about the connection between popcorn and oral health, how it puts your smile at risk, and other healthier alternatives to keep in mind, keep reading!

Popcorn Creates Lactic Acid

While popcorn is known for being low in calories, it creates a high amount of lactic acid when you consume it. The mouth does not naturally produce nor contain lactic acid, and for good reason. This is because it can erode your teeth’s protective enamel, resulting in cavities. Keep in mind this process starts occurring well before you start picking kernels out of your teeth.

Kernel Hulls Can Easily Stick Between Teeth

No amount of food stuck between teeth is considered good or healthy, but popcorn hulls are uniquely bad because they can get extremely lodged in there. The only saving grace is that once this occurs, you’re likely to notice it immediately. It may even drive you a bit crazy with how noticeable it becomes. Without prompt removal, it can accelerate the production at which oral bacteria consume it and create plaque acids as a result.

Cracked and Chipped Teeth

If you’ve ever eaten a handful of popcorn before, you may find that you’re more likely to run into a kernel that didn’t get cooked properly. This can easily lead you to biting into one when you least expect it. Popcorn kernels can be incredibly hard, even after they’ve been cooked in oil. In fact, they can easily crack or chip a tooth or dental restoration, ruining your movie or other occasion where you may be relaxing and enjoying a snack.

Mouth-Friendly Snacks to Consider

The good news is there are many healthier options worth looking at that are not only low-calorie, but significantly less likely to cause dental problems or a dental emergency. They include:

  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Plain nuts (especially softer varieties like cashews and walnuts)
  • Rice cakes
  • Hummus
  • Whole-grain pitas and other breads

Just because you’re craving a snack in between meals doesn’t mean you should put your smile in harm’s way. There are many options out there to satisfy your craving and avoid a sudden emergency trip to the dentist!

About the Author

Dr. Bradford Young has been working in the dental field for over 12 years now and greatly enjoys interacting with patients of all different ages and backgrounds. There are few things he enjoys more than showing patients how comfortable and positive dental visits can be, whether it’s through routine checkups or more complex dental services. To schedule an appointment, you can contact him through his website.

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