Are you in the mood for barbecue? Then you’re in luck, because this Saturday is the Third Annual Houston Barbecue Festival! Over 20 local restaurants are participating by sharing two-ounce samples of their distinctive flavor. At the event, you can pick up each of the local joints’ two-ounce samples and enjoy them outside at picnic tables in the Green Lot of NRG Park. The festival is a great way to enjoy excellent food and warmer spring weather with your family (children of all ages are welcome and kids under 6 can attend for free). Barbequing is an excellent, delectable tradition, but there are certain dental risks involved in chomping down on saucy meat and everything that tends to go with it. This week, we provide our tips for keeping your smile bright, white, and healthy at the Houston Barbecue Festival and at your own backyard events.
Steer Clear of Too Much Spice
There are all kinds of barbecue. Some prefer a sweet honey sauce, while others enjoy a smoky flavor. Many people enjoy spicy barbecue, but you should be careful about just how much kick your meat has. Each person’s tolerance for spice is different, but too much can cause heartburn or acid reflux, which creates a stinging sensation in the back of your throat as acids from your stomach rise. In addition to being uncomfortable and causing stomach aches, acid reflux can be wear down your teeth’s enamel, making them more vulnerable to decay.
HealthDay News for Healthier Living reports the findings of a 2012 dental study: almost half of [patients with acid reflux] suffered much worse tooth wear and erosion than healthy people. This disease can ultimately lead to thin, sharp, and pitted teeth. Especially if you already suffer from fairly regular bouts of heartburn, be cautious about how spicy your barbecue is. Dr. David Leader, a professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, also recommends that patients experiencing acid reflux chew xylitol gum because it reduces acid in the mouth and can defend against cavities.
Eat Your Vegetables
While you might be tempted to focus on trying the dozens of barbecue samples or proudly enjoying the meat you’ve cooked at home, it’s important to balance it out with a good serving of vegetables. As well as providing vital nutrients, raw vegetables can help scrub away debris and plaque from your teeth as you chew them. Having a side of carrot sticks or a small salad with your scrumptious barbecue could help you combat the sticky sugars in sauces.
Drink Lots of Water
Your mouth can best fight cavities when it’s properly hydrated. In addition to rinsing away food that might be stuck to your teeth, drinking plenty of water can promote healthy saliva flow, which is important because your spit has natural antibacterial properties. Drinking water is also an excellent way to limit your consumption of other potentially harmful beverages like sugary, acidic sodas.
Bring Picks or Floss
The best barbecue is so tender that it falls apart in your mouth, but this also typically means it’s easy for meat to get stuck between your teeth. Sauce-coated morsels wedged in between your molars can invite decay and gum disease by giving bacteria plenty to feast on. To keep your smile clean and clear, bring dental floss or picks with you to barbecues. Once you’re done eating, you can make a quick bathroom trip to ensure that your smile is presentable and protected.
Consider a Whitening Treatment for Barbecue Season
Unfortunately, tooth-staining foods are everywhere during barbecue season. Dark sauces, sodas, coffees, beers, and wines can leave your teeth discolored and make you self-conscious about your smile. Dr. Flanagan offers both in-office and take-home teeth whitening from Zoom! to dissolve dark food particles trapped in your enamel and leave you with a lighter smile. You can laugh, joke, and smile at your barbecue more comfortably with brighter teeth.
Make Your Barbecue Tasty and Tooth-Friendly
Taking care of your pearly whites is important at fun events like the Houston Barbecue Festival. Contact Cindy Flanagan, D.D.S. to find out more barbecue dental tips or schedule an appointment for teeth whitening.