Labor Day is fast approaching, and for many of us, it, like many another holidays, will be an excuse to eat as much as we want and whatever we want without regard for our diets or dental health. You might eventually wince when you get on the bathroom scale, and the next time you visit the dentist, you could find your teeth have paid a price for your carelessness in the form of cavities, tooth decay, or gum disease.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Some of the best foods for gum health, strong, healthy teeth, weight control, and overall health are also delicious at summer picnics, cookouts, and similar occasions. Focus on those while avoiding the worst foods for your teeth and overall health and you should be able to avoid nasty surprises the next time you see your physician or sit down in the dentist’s chair.
The Best Foods for Summer Holidays
With that in mind, here are lists of some of the best and worst foods for summer holiday occasions.
• Fish. It’s high in nutrients, and recent research indicates that consuming fish and fish oil can combat symptoms of periodontitis, which is inflammation of the gum tissue around the teeth. • Shrimp. Shrimp are low-calorie, have a lot of protein, and are rich in iron. You can have them in shrimp cocktails, grilled, or as a topping on salads. • Grilled chicken kabobs. Easy to prepare on the grill, these are high in protein but low in carbohydrates, fats, and calories. • Corn on the cob. This is a low-calorie, high-fiber food. It’s good for you as long as you don’t overdo the butter and salt. Yellow corn will give you more Vitamin A than white corn. • Zucchini. Zucchini is low on calories, has plenty of Vitamin C, and no fat or cholesterol at all. You can have it diced, sliced, rolled, grilled, or raw. • Gazpacho. Hot soup is generally an unappealing prospect in the summer heat, but cold soup is a different story, and it’s made from healthy ingredients like tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers. • Dairy. Dairy products like cheese, milk, and yogurt are loaded with the phosphorus and calcium that strengthen teeth. At the same time, they’re low in sugar. It’s a good combination, and studies reveal that eating more dairy reduces the chance of gum disease. • Seedless foods. If foods are seedless, there are no seeds to get caught in a person’s teeth. In this regard, seedless hot dog and hamburger buns are better tan the alternative, so is seedless watermelon, and crunchy fruits in fruit salad are better than kiwi, blackberries, or raspberries. • Crunchy, but the right crunchy. Broccoli, celery, carrots, pears, and apples act like natural toothbrushes. They clean away buildup and stimulate the production of saliva to wash away food residue. Don’t, however, grab handfuls of potato chips in the mistaken belief that just because they too are crunchy, they’ll provide the same benefit. They won’t. Instead, it’s likely leftover bits will settle in the pits of your teeth to foster the growth of harmful bacteria. • Infused water. Whether or not you consider water a food per se, the fact remains that drinking plenty water is good for your teeth and general health, and while low on sugar, infused water provides the flavor you might otherwise seek in soda or sports drinks, which are hard on the teeth. They contain a lot of sugar, erode the teeth, and may cause dry mouth. • Sugar-free gum. Gum’s not exactly a food, either, but if guests are looking for something to sweeten their mouths after a meal, it’s a superior alternative to sugary mints. Chewing sugar-free gum that carries the ADA Seal for twenty minutes after eating fights tooth decay by increasing the production of saliva to wash away harmful acid.
The 5 Worst Foods for Summer Holidays
• Beef and pork. These can be hard to let go of, especially on an occasion like Labor Day when many people’s inclinations naturally turn to burgers, franks, and ribs. But the sad truth of the matter is that consuming very much of them isn’t good for your teeth or your health in general. As noted above, fish, shrimp, and chicken prepared in a health-conscious way are superior alternatives. • Barbecue sauce. Barbecue sauce is full of sugar and accordingly promotes tooth decay. It’s a good idea to limit or eliminate your intake. (This is true of condiments in general.) • Macaroni and potato salad. The problem with these is that it’s usually fatty mayonnaise that makes them taste so good. If you must have them, consider making them with low-fat mayonnaise or olive oil. Olive oil is an unsaturated fat and healthy for your heart. • Onion rings. The combination of a flour-and-egg dip, deep frying, and heavy salty means that these probably shouldn’t be on the diet of any person concerned about his or her weight or heart. • Ice cream sandwiches. These treats contain nearly 500 calories each and the majority of that comes from saturated fat. Sweets in general are bad for you, but if you’re craving ice cream, ice cream sandwiches are a particularly unhealthy way to satisfy the craving.
Best and Worst Foods for Summer Holidays; Two Final Tips
These pointers don’t involve food choices per se, but they’re related and well worth noting.
It’s preferable if people don’t chew ice. Chewing on something hard like ice can damage tooth enamel or break teeth. To gently discourage such behavior, hosts can provides beverages in cans and bottles in containers full of ice, or they can make sure the ice that goes into cups is crushed, not cubes.
There’s a good chance that a summer party includes food likely to get stuck in someone’s teeth. Corn on the cob and pulled pork are strong possibilities, and when a bit of them gets jammed between a person’s teeth, he or she may be inclined to reach for a toothpick.
Unfortunately, from a dental health standpoint, that’s a bad idea. The toothpick can splinter in the mouth, or the sharp point can pierce a gum, let bacteria in, and start the onslaught of gum disease.
As an alternative, hosts can provide flexible wooden plaque removers on the table or dental picks in a covered container on the bathroom counter.