There are some foods that just seem to be hard on teeth. Whether it’s the cosmetic concern of having food on your teeth or the discomfort of having something stuck between your teeth, food that gets stuck in your teeth can lead to oral annoyances. 7 of the top offenders are:
Chewing soft white bread quickly reduces it to a sticky mass. Starchy foods can cause real problems for your dental health because they stick to teeth and feed dangerous bacteria. Bits of white bread can be dislodged with a toothbrush (or even your tongue) most of the time. But, there are risks to brushing immediately after eating. Instead, try swishing with plain water or an oral rinse to maximize tooth health.
Caramels may be creamy and delicious, but chances are you know the hazards of loving them or have met someone who has experienced the price of loving them. After all, caramels are enormously sticky. That sticky character produces a two-fold danger to your oral health. The sticky caramel stays put on your teeth, leaving plenty of sugar for cariogenic (cavity-causing) bacteria to feed on and causing the pH level in your mouth to trend to acidic conditions—the same conditions that cause enamel to dissolve. Caramel can cause mechanical damage as well. As you chew, it can get stuck so firmly to your teeth that it can pull out existing fillings.
If eating caramel doesn’t seem close enough to the edge for you, a caramel apple up the risks. Combining the caramel stickiness with fruit acids, a hard apple, and slippery apple skin, greatly increases the risk that you will end up with food stuck in your teeth, potentially causing pain and increasing your risk of oral health issues.
Corn on the Cob
Crisp, roasted corn on the cob may be delicious, but it can cause a deliciously uncomfortable situation. Kernels of corn have a covering that can cause dental problems. The covering doesn’t break down as quickly while being chewed as the middle of the kernel, so the coating can get caught between teeth. A thorough flossing is usually enough to remove the problem husks. But, if corn on the cob is tricky for teeth, it has nothing on its drier cousin…
When someone says food that gets stuck in your teeth, popcorn may very well be the first food that comes to mind. With its fluffy white filling attached to a hard, irregular shell, popcorn is a delicious tooth shrapnel. The fluffy part of the popcorn quickly breaks down when you chew it, but the shell does not break down well. It also tends to have sharp edges from the explosive popping action that created it. As it slides between your teeth, it can cut into your gums or slide between your teeth and your gums, becoming very hard to dislodge. Gum injuries can lead to gum infection, which is a high cost for a simple snack.
A healthy snack can be rough on your teeth sometimes, too. Raspberries and blackberries are prime offenders in this area. Their tiny seeds have an uncomfortable way of sneaking between teeth and sometimes into gums. Like a part of a popcorn kernel, when the hard seed gets lodged in your gums, you may not be aware of it—but your gums are. As the irritation grows, so does the risk of inflammation, which brings with it the risk of early gum disease. Meticulous cleaning can help lower the risk that healthy snacks like berries can cause dental injury. Even if you’re not a berry fan, it pays to look out, since sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and any other small seeds can cause the same trouble.
It’s a visual comedy classic—a big, friendly smile ruined by a piece of spinach. Spinach, parsley, kale, and other leafy greens and herbs tend to get stuck in your teeth, potentially making your smile an unhappy one. The good news is that green, leafy freeloaders on your teeth are usually fairly easy to dislodge, so there’s no reason to forgo the benefits of a veggie-filled meal to save your teeth. It’s possible that you may have a minute or two of embarrassment if there’s a clinger, but chewing sugar-free xylitol gum after eating can help dislodge any stray veggie particles while helping to fight decay-causing acids.
Biting into fresh, meaty ribs may be one of the summer’s great joys, but it can lead to one of life’s great discomforts. Stringy meats, like ribs or brisket, can pull apart into fiber just the right size to slide between teeth and cause trouble for you. Although you may be tempted to pick at your teeth with something handy, a study that looked at adult flossing habits found that of those who admitted to using twigs, fingernails, paper, pocketknives, etc. to try to dislodge items from their teeth found that nearly half of them injured themselves doing so. Stick to floss, interdental brushes, and cleaning techniques meant to work in your mouth for optimal oral health.
What to Do About Food That Gets Stuck in Your Teeth
This article is in no way meant to discourage you from eating any of these food. Enjoy your favorite snacks and meals! Just be cognizant of the potential risks, particularly if you have braces, and be sure to practice proper oral hygiene to keep your teeth healthy.