Popcorn is a healthy and common snack that many people include as a regular staple in their diet. Eating it without teeth can be tricky, however. Should you even do it?
People can eat popcorn even if they don’t have teeth; there are no extra dangers of eating popcorn without teeth. However, popcorn is notoriously bad for dental health. Popcorn creates a lot of acids as it is chewed, which is very bad for enamel. It can even be bad for gums and dentures.
Let’s go over the dangers of popcorn and why eating it is a hazard to your mouth, whether you have teeth or not. This article will also talk about why you might be in luck if you don’t have teeth (when it comes to eating popcorn).
How Can I Eat Popcorn If I Have No Teeth?
Popcorn is really bad for our mouths. Just to be clear, it is pretty healthy for the rest of our bodies. Luckily, a lot of the dangers of popcorn actually go away if you don’t have teeth. If you’re eating popcorn with just your gums, all you need to be aware of are the kernels and husks.
If you have only gums, it’s the best practice to just suck on the popcorn until you can tell if it has a hard kernel or any husks inside of the starchy part. Then if it is all clear, you can start chewing. Let’s talk about why.
The biggest reason to be so cautious when eating popcorn is that it has a lot of potential to hurt your gums. Normally when people eat popcorn, their teeth take the brunt of the damage.
Without teeth or other dental replacements, your gums take the majority of the damage. Your gums are a lot softer than your teeth, so they have a lot more potential to get hurt. So, if you’re eating popcorn and chomp down on a hard kernel, one of three things will happen.
First, the kernel may hurt you but just glance off. Second, It could break your gums and cause you to bleed, but still glance off. The third, and worst-case scenario is that it will break your gums and lodge itself in your gums.
These three scenarios stand for any hard husks as well. The third scenario is the worst of them all because you’ll have lasting damage if it isn’t taken care of. In this case, the kernel/husk will need to be removed, possibly by a dental professional.
If you use dentures or implants, things are a little different.
In terms of dentures, popcorn isn’t as big of an issue. Exercise caution, as a hard kernel could still break your dentures if they are well worn. However, this would be more akin to eating with your natural teeth.
So don’t go chomping down on all the hardest things, and be careful when chewing, but don’t deny yourself popcorn if you’re worried about it. Just be careful.
As for the implants, think of these more as braces. You really probably shouldn’t eat popcorn with them. Lots of people do, but that’s not exactly a good excuse.
If you must eat popcorn with an implant, just be cautious. You might break it if you’re not careful. Avoid kernels, or else suck on them for a minute before chewing. And above all, try not to get any husks stuck in your gums.
Until now, the only thing that has been talked about is how to eat popcorn without teeth. From here on out, this article is going to talk more about the dangers of popcorn. These will apply to eating popcorn with teeth, without teeth, and everything in-between.
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Why Is Popcorn So Bad For Teeth?
Popcorn has three things that are bad for dental health. The kernels, the husks, and the acid. Each of these three has shared hazards and unique hazards, so we are going to split them up into their own sections to go into more detail.
Hard kernels are bad because they break things. They can cause cracks in your teeth, breaks in your gums, tears in your dentures, and completely pop off the prosthesis of any implants you have.
Why does this happen? Humans have pretty powerful jaws. Humans can exert a force of about 1,200 Newtons or roughly 162 pounds per square inch (PSI). These numbers are actually rather impressive. Now humans will never out-bite a saltwater crocodile, but humans can bite harder than some of our primate cousins.
So, imagine 160 pounds of pressure ramming down onto the tough surface of the cooked but unpopped kernel. Something is going to break, and it’ll probably be your teeth before it’s your jaw or the kernel.
Now, if your teeth are what’s going to break in this equation, and they are the hardest option of the four (teeth, gums, implants, dentures) then imagine the damage that can be done to your gums.
That is why caution is suggested when chewing popcorn.
Husks are good and bad. If they just barely break the skin of the gum, then this can actually have benefits for your gums, as long as it is removed promptly. Sometimes these husks don’t come out easily. When they’re left in the gums, they have the potential to decay. This encourages the surrounding area to decay as well, making it a hotspot for infection.
This is a bigger problem if you have teeth or implants, as these hide the husks better and can prevent their removal entirely. However, if you have dentures, this is far less likely to happen because most dentures will cover the gums.
If you are using just gums to eat, then it can be a bit of a toss-up. The faster you chew, the more likely you are to get husks stuck in your gums. So, be thoughtful in your chewing.
This one is a little different than the other two. It has less to do with the popcorn and more to do with general hygiene. However, popcorn really does make a mess of things because of this.
Popcorn is excellent at making acid. Well, to be more specific, it encourages the production of acid from pre-existing bacteria.
You see, human mouths are quite gross. Humans have an absolute madhouse of bacteria living in them. Most people think that it is these bacteria that are responsible for tooth decay, and they are only partially right.
It’s really the acid that these bacteria create that is to blame. The bacteria don’t eat our teeth, but the acid they release slowly eats away at our teeth and gums.
This is because the bacteria that live in our mouths don’t use oxygen to respirate. They are anaerobic. One of the byproducts of anaerobic respiration is lactic acid.
This lactic acid is terrible for enamel and will destroy our teeth if left unchecked. And popcorn is a champion at helping the bacteria in our mouth create it. The starches that make up the popcorn puff are all very easy for the bacteria to digest. This kicks them into overdrive, and they start producing lots and lots of lactic acid.
But what if you have no teeth? This may be where you are actually the lucky one. In a recent study done in Norway, researchers actually found that lactic acid seems to hamper gingivitis.
That’s right, too much of the stuff actually is good for the gums. It might be detrimental to teeth, but it’s excellent at preventing gum disease.
Let’s not forget the implants and dentures.
As for dentures, the same rules apply to regular teeth. Over time, any acid that they are exposed to will cause decay and ultimately ruin the dentures. With proper care, this may take many years.
When we’re talking about implants, it’s hard to say. It really depends on what the prosthesis is made out of. The titanium implant itself will be fine for a very long time. Titanium is generally considered inert, meaning that in most cases it won’t react with anything, even acids. That’s not an excuse for not taking proper care of it though.
Luckily, all of these acid problems will be essentially non-existent so long as you take proper care of your teeth.
How Do I Clean My Mouth After Eating Popcorn?
Popcorn husks and acids are only damaging for as long as they are left in your mouth The best way to mitigate damage is by exercising proper care.
For teeth, that means brushing twice a day, flossing at least once, and using mouth wash. In the case of eating popcorn, you should brush right after you have eaten it in order to get rid of all the acid and any stuck kernels or husks.
It’s a little more complicated if you don’t have teeth. Let’s go over the other three options:
If you are eating popcorn with dentures, the same general rules apply as with teeth. Use a soft-bristled brush to clean the dentures as soon as you can. Specific denture care instructions will depend on the type of dentures you have.
With popcorn, make sure that you have something to wash away the acid as soon as possible. This could be as simple as swishing around some water you eat.
As for implants, again, treat them more like braces. You really shouldn’t eat popcorn with implants. If you must, a soft brustled toothpick will work wonders, as will proper flossing. These things can be fragile. If you have questions, talk to your dentist; they will know the specifics of the implant you have, so they will know what they can and can’t handle.
With the gums, well, that depends. If you are bleeding from chomping on hard kernels or getting husks stuck in your gums, rinsing with water will help clean everything out. If you can, chew some gum too. Gum is great at collecting any leftover bits of popcorn. Be careful, as chewing gum can be dangerous without teeth to help control where it goes.
Brush your mouth as soon as you can. If you have any bits of popcorn leftover, a gentle brush and rinse should clean everything out.
Now, if you have kernels or husks that are stuck in your gums, then you will probably need help to remove them. If you feel like you can do it yourself, go for it. However, doing it yourself could make things worse. If you have anything stuck in your gums, please go to a professional and have them remove it.
If you are going to try it yourself, here are some guidelines:
First of all, have someone else help you. If you think you can get it out by just wiggling it with your tongue, then wiggle away. If you need to use your fingers or a pair of tweezers, have someone else help. If the pain gets worse, stop and go see a professional. You don’t want to make things worse by driving the scrap further in.
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There you have it. All the dos and don’ts of eating popcorn without teeth. Just remember, at the end of the day, popcorn is delicious, but that doesn’t mean that you should always eat it. If you are going to eat it without any teeth, do so with caution. It may save you a trip to your dentist (and a great deal of pain).
Brush your mouth after you finish eating popcorn, as this will ensure that you don’t do extra harm because of acid. Watch out for hard kernels. These are likely to cause at least pain, but possibly more damage to both teeth and replacements.
Enjoy your snacks, but do it without hurting yourself. There are no extra dangers to eating popcorn without teeth. It’s already a snack that has a lot of potential to harm your mouth. There’s no need to make it worse. A little caution now will save you a dentist trip later.