Dr. Kathleen Mullaney • DDS • FAGD

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How Concession Snacks Damage Smiles

How Concession Snacks Damage Smiles

AACD Dentists offer advice on summer movie munchies

MADISON, Wis. (7/2/12) – For many, the movie theater experience isn’t complete without a trip to the concession stand.  But those sugary, sticky, and butter-laden snacks are scarier than a blockbuster horror flick and play a big role in tooth damage, staining and cavities, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD).

Here’s a round-up of the best and worst theater snacks for your teeth from a panel of AACD dental experts .

“Crunching down on an un-popped popcorn kernel is a common cause of painful dental fractures,” the panel points out.  Each dentist noted that they have treated patients for broken teeth from popcorn.  “Popcorn husks can also become lodged between the back teeth and gums, often requiring a course of antibiotics to clear up the resulting infection after removal.”

While candy is an obvious offender, some choices are better than others for teeth.  The panel reviewed a variety of favorite movie sweets:

  • Sour Candies (Sour Patch Kids and War Heads) – These candies cause the most damage because they contain high amounts of citric, fumaric and malic acids, all which cause damage to tooth enamel.
  • Caramels (Milk Duds and Sugar Babies) – The caramel in these treats is super sticky enabling it to remain on teeth for a long period of time.  Also, its stickiness can enable crowns or fillings to be pulled out.
  • Fruit and Nut-based Candies – (Raisinets and Boston Baked Beans) –While these may seem like a healthy choice, they are also sticky, allowing sugar to stick on teeth.
  • Candy Coated Chocolates (M&Ms and Reese’s Pieces) — While not as sticky as other sweets, the colored candy shell stains teeth.

Acid-Packed Drinks
Soda is another concession culprit and carries a one-two punch, according to the AACD expert panel. First, there’s the high sugar content. Next, and even worse, is the high acidity level which wears down tooth enamel. Acid levels are ranked on the pH scale where the lower the number, the more acidic the substance is. Whereas battery acid ranks at 1.0 on the scale, soda ranks near or below a 3 compared to water which ranks at 7.0 (neutral).  It’s not surprising that AACD experts recommend bottled water or club soda or even opting for a small soda to reduce the damage.

Snacks for Your Smile
There’s no need to avoid movie candy and snacks altogether when heading to the movie theater say AACD experts, but look for better alternatives.

  • Dark chocolate is the least processed and closest to the cocoa bean, which contain tannins, polyphenols, and flavonoids. Each of these offers a strong antioxidant that benefits the mouth and teeth.
  • Pixie Stix are a candy option the panel agreed on is because they are poured directly on the tongue, thus avoiding chewing altogether.
  • Cheese Nachos – From a purely oral health perspective, nachos are a reasonable choice because the sugar content isn’t high, they aren’t hard to chew and there’s not much acidity.

Excerpts from the AACD

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