7 Dental-health-friendly Summer BBQ Tips
It’s that wonderful time of year when the days are long and the air is sweet with the smell of barbecue. The last thing on anyone’s mind during summer is dental health. Which is why it’s a somewhat treacherous time for the health of your teeth.
Summer means a break from school and routine in general for your kids. During the school year, kids have got their morning and evening routine. With those routines out of the equation, it’s very easy to skip tooth brushing or flossing. Coupled with the fact that dietary habits often get relaxed, summer time is when tooth-damaging bacteria can run rampant.
But it’s not just kids who relax their routines. As barbecue and summer party season begins, we can all be a little over-indulgent. With that in mind, here are seven dental-health-friendly tips for summer barbecues and parties alike:
1. Skimp on the BBQ Sauce
What’s a barbecue without heaping amounts of delicious barbecue sauce? Better for your teeth, that’s what. Dark-colored sugar-laden sauces like barbecue and ketchup can be just as bad for your teeth as candy. Ketchup is 25 percent sugar, and a mere tablespoon of barbecue sauce has 5 grams of sugar and 22 grams of carbohydrates.
Nobody is suggesting you cut out these delicious barbecue staples from your diet entirely. But moderation is a good practice, or you can use alternative taste enhancers, like sugar-free sauces or dry rub.
2. Say “Cheese!”
Aside from being delicious, cheese is rich in calcium and phosphorus, which help to strengthen tooth enamel and protect teeth from damage. A number of studies have also highlighted the fact that dairy may help lower gum disease risk.
So when the host asks you if you want cheese on your burger, the answer is “yes.” If you are the host, consider putting out cheese platters for snacks as an addition to chips and nuts.
3. Drink Water
It should come as no surprise that regular soda is terrible for your teeth. You may have heard the slogan, “sip all day, get decay.” A surge in summer parties, barbecues and other activities means that parents tend to relax their attitude towards their kids drinking soda.
Put out fun alternatives like colorful fruit-infused water that are refreshing and delicious without concern for dental health.
4. Ditch the Toothpick
Who doesn’t love corn on the cob fresh off the grill? Delicious as it may be, it’s guaranteed that you’re going to spend just as much time trying to get the remnants from between your teeth as you did eating an ear of corn
Thoughtful hosts might put out toothpicks, but it’s best to avoid them as they can end up piercing gum tissues or splintering, causing even more hassle.
If you’re serving corn on the cob and want to help your guests, try leaving some dental-friendly soft, flexible plaque removers. The ADA recommends stim-u-dent.
5. …And the Seeds
While we’re ditching toothpicks, let’s ditch seeds as well. No sesame seed buns for the burgers and no raspberries or kiwi in the fruit salad. Like corn-on-the-cob, seeds get stuck between the teeth and/or gum line, causing irritation.
Brioche burger buns and seedless watermelon… yes please!
6. Sugar-free desserts
The barbecue was delicious, but I hope you left room for dessert. Apple pie, ice cream, sweets… a good dessert can really round out a great barbecue. But these sugary treats can wreak havoc on dental health. Look for sugar-free dessert alternatives, or at least options that have lower sugar content. Thanks to artificial sweeteners, you can enjoy delicious desserts without the dental guilt.
7. Chew on This
Although not exactly traditional barbecue or party fare, chewing gum is a great treat to leave around for guests (sugar-free of course). The benefits of chewing sugar-free gum after meals is well established. It stimulates the flow of saliva, which helps to wash away decay-causing bacteria and maintain a healthful pH balance in the mouth.
Check out our article on the benefits of chewing sugar-free gum