May is National Barbecue Month and here in the Shenandoah Valley, cookouts are a big deal all summer long. But while grilling is fun and delicious, many of the foods you’ll find at barbecues are not the best for your teeth.
Here are a few tips from Dr. Eye, a Woodstock Dentist, and the staff here at Exceptional Smiles Family Dentistry in Harrisonburg for keeping your teeth clean and healthy during barbecue season.
Just Add Fish
Of course we would never tell you to skip the burgers, ribs and hot dogs—those are classic barbecue foods! But if you throw some fish on the grill with them, your teeth will thank you later. According to the Journal of Dental Research, omega-3s have been found to help prevent gum disease, which affects roughly half of adults in the United States.
The fish highest in these healthy fatty acids are salmon, trout, tuna and sardines.
Load Up On Veggies
Skip the chips and fried foods and fill up your plate with all the vegetable sides you can. Carrot and celery sticks and salads made with leafy greens effectively clean your mouth while you eat them. The long strands of fiber help keep food particles from getting stuck between your teeth and prevent plaque buildup.
Don’t Let Food Stay Between Your Teeth
Ribs and corn on the cob are notorious for getting lodged between your teeth. After you’re finished eating, make sure you get them out of there as soon as you can. Those little particles provide a feast for the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease.
Take a floss pick with you so you can make a quick pit stop to your car or the bathroom after you’re done eating and clean any debris from between your teeth.
Drink Plenty of Water
A dry mouth is the best environment for decay causing bacteria. Drinking lots of water helps to keep your mouth hydrated and flush out any food that’s hiding in there. It also encourages your mouth to produce more saliva, which is naturally antibacterial.
If you have to have something bubbly, skip the soda and opt for sparkling water instead. Add some fruit for natural and healthy flavor.
Have Fruit for Dessert
There is usually no shortage of tempting dessert options at a barbecue. But if there’s a fruit salad or some fruit kebabs, choose those over the cakes and cookies—not only is fruit good for you, it can also help scrub your teeth (like the veggies we mentioned above). Strawberries in particular are good for cleaning and whitening teeth. That way, you’ll get to end your meal with something sweet without eating a bunch of processed sugar, which isn’t good for your mouth or your waistline.
For more tips on how to eat your way to better dental health, check out Dr. Eye’s Favorite Foods for Healthy Teeth!
And Now For the Contest…
Take a photo of what you’re grilling this summer and share it on our Facebook page. At the end of June, we’ll choose our favorite and give away a prize to the winner!