Does Popcorn Cause Tooth Damage?

Popcorn is one of the worst dental offenders. “Its not just the kernels that are bad for your teeth, but also the thin shell that surrounds the kernel,” says Chevy Chase, MD cosmetic dentist Claudia C. Cotca, DDS. “Oftentimes, it slides off and gets lodged between the gums and teeth, easily going unnoticed.” If it isn't removed in time, it can cause bone loss and possibly the loss of the tooth, too. “If left undisturbed, decay can cause cavities, abscess and tooth loss, and can also shift your bite and change your smile,” adds New York cosmetic dentist Irwin Smigel, DDS.

The Solution: A Dental Implant
In the case of a lodged kernel that gets overlooked for a prolonged period of time, bone and even tooth loss may be the result. Dr. Cotca says that sometimes the only way to fix the problem is by replacing the damaged tooth with an implant. "We may also have to fix the damage to the gum and bone with a graft. In fact, many dentists themselves avoid popcorn at all costs because they know what can possibly occur from eating it."

You May Also Like: Can Chewing Gum Actually Give You Bad Breath?

For A Deep-Down Clean
To remove tooth-damaging food debris that gets lodged between your teeth and below the gum line, use this high-tech Pink Waterpik Aquarius Professional Water Flosser ($90), which relies on a pulse-mode technology to really clean teeth and frewshen breath.

Inside Tip: According to Atlanta cosmetic dentist Ronald Goldstein, DDS, if your teeth have severe micro cracks in their enamel, beware the coloring agents in foods and drinks can get lodged in the cracks and have a damaging effect. "We do not see these foods affecting the gum tissue much, except in the short term."

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2 Comments
  • Dr. Ronald Goldstein
    Posted on

    I forgot to mention that I broke a lower front tooth by biting into a popcorn kernal by accident during a great movie...so much for the movie...never saw the end! Tip is to be careful HOW you bite into popcorn...just assume there might be an unpopped kernal lurking to chip or fracture your teeth...so bite softly!

  • Posted on

    We see patients quite often with popcorn or other objects wedged between their teeth and their gums. If left unchecked, these foreign bodies can certainly cause bone loss and eventual tooth loss. You first line of defense against this is avoiding foods like popcorn that are prone to getting stuck. Also, thorough brushing and flossing will help removed the lodged item. If you can't seem to get the culprit out, see your dentists as soon as possible so something small doesn't turn into a big problem like a lost tooth!

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