It’s finally July, and this month means parades, concerts, and backyard barbecues. It’s been estimated that about 74 million Americans grill out every Fourth of July—not to mention the millions of Americans who love grilling all summer long. No matter where you are this festive month, we know that food and cookouts will certainly be a highlight!
Here are a few ways to keep your smile bright and braces safe this barbecue season.
1. Avoid hard foods
Hard foods include some common barbecue snacks, such as pretzels and hard candies, as well as meat on the bone (think ribs or drumsticks). Pretzels tend to get stuck in your teeth because of the starch they contain. When snacking on crunchy foods like these, always be sure to floss afterward to remove any remaining plaque-causing food particles. Eating hard candy exposes your teeth to a lot of sugar and can also lead to chipped teeth and broken brackets. For braces-safe barbecues, cut the meat off the bones before enjoying!
2. Don’t chew ice
It may be hot outside, but chewing ice can crack and chip teeth, damage tooth enamel, and cause other problems with existing dental work, such as fillings and braces. Chewing ice can also make teeth more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures and more prone to cavities, so we recommend avoiding this hard-to-resist habit as much as possible. To cool off, stick to ice-cold water. You could even choose soft ice cream—just remember to brush after!
3. Don’t open beer, soda, or water bottles with your teeth
When there’s no bottle opener handy, sometimes people resort to unsafe measures that often involve their teeth. Bottle cap tooth injuries make up a large percentage of barbecue-related dental issues. Grab a bottle opener or ask a friend for help instead of risking a dental mishap.
4. Practice grill safety
If you clean your barbecue grill with a wire bristle brush, the steel bristles can get stuck in the grill and make their way into food, causing serious problems. If consumed, these bristles can injure the throat, tongue, mouth, palate, and teeth. Therefore, it’s best to inspect grilled food before serving it or find alternative cleaning methods, like nylon bristle brushes, stainless steel grid scrapers, or pumice stones.
5. Drink plenty of water
A simple and surefire way to take care of your teeth at a barbecue is to alternate drinks like beer and soda with water. This will help keep your teeth clean and the pH level in your mouth normal.
Wherever you are and whoever you’re with this summer season, we hope you enjoy it. Stay safe, and don’t forget to brush your teeth as soon as you get home from a cookout or barbecue!