Whether you’re following the Bucs or Lightening from home or camping out in front of the stadium, food is a HUGE part of why sports are so enjoyable. We love a good tailgate, but as we’re munching down on treats, there’s something else on our minds: teeth. A lot of the foods and beverages served at sporting events can cause damage to your beautiful smile. Is it too late for you? Are you destined to have the mouth of an NHL hockey player?
A Sucker Punch to Your Teeth
Some of the most popular foods for sports fans may be delicious, but they could be harming your teeth. Here are a few examples:
- Chips — Potato and tortilla chips alone are great, but when they’re used as scoops for mouthwatering dips, they could almost inspire poetry. There are two problems: one is that (believe it or not) chips can literally chip your teeth and harm your dental work, the other is that tiny soggy chip particles get caught in the grooves of your teeth, where they act just like sugar and promote cavities.
- Alcohol — No matter your poison, alcohol will affect your teeth in two ways. First, the acids in beer, wine, and liquor can damage your tooth enamel, making your teeth vulnerable to decay. Second, these drinks can dehydrate you — including your mouth. When saliva doesn’t flow as it should, your teeth are even more susceptible to tooth decay. What’s more, dry mouth could lead to bad breath. If someone cries “foul,” it may be because of YOU!
- Soda — Soda pulls all the punches … and without gloves! First, sodas, sports drinks, and energy drinks all contain acids, which (as indicated above) can compromise your tooth enamel. Then, while your enamel is soft and porous, the sugars penetrate and form the plaque that causes tooth decay.
- Acidic Foods — Yep! Acid again! Pickles, tomato-based salsas, wing sauce, and a whole slew of other foods are chock full of acidity.
Be a Champion!
We’re not trying to strike a low blow; we just want to keep you informed. You can still enjoy an occasional tailgate — especially if you incorporate some of the following foods:
- Fresh Veggies — Just like chips, these wholesome bad boys can deliver a nice dollop of dip to your mouth. They can also naturally clean your teeth as you chew them. After a day of junking out, some of your fellow partiers will appreciate having a healthy option at hand.
- Water — Water is everything! It will keep you and other sports fans hydrated in the Florida heat, it will keep the saliva flowing, it will help you digest all other foods, and it will rinse away particles of junky stuff from your teeth.
- Dairy — Dairy is a great way to counter acidity, plus it has calcium and proteins. Instead of a big bowl of salsa, serve a Greek yogurt-based roasted veggie dip. Instead of crackers, have bite-size slices of cheese for party-goers to nibble on. These foods support healthy bones and teeth, but they are also satiating, so you and your fellow sports fans won’t be hungry for hours.
The truth is, tailgating foods are probably okay in moderation. If you’re partying weekend after weekend, though, you may want to give your teeth (and body) a break. However often you indulge, know that we are here for you — judgement free — and will make sure your teeth stay healthy from one sports season to the next.
The St. Petersburg Dental Team