11 Oct

Is our new obsession with posh popcorn contributing to rising rates of dental injuries?

shutterstock_697493491Have you noticed that supermarket aisles and café shelves are packed with all kinds of popcorn-based snacks these days?
In the last few years, there’s been a huge increase in the variety of popcorn products available, with manufacturers profiting from the nation’s obsession with healthy snacking. The trouble is that although popcorn may be lower in fat and contain fewer calories than crisps and biscuits, it’s not the most tooth-friendly food out there and dentists are worried that this growing trend is contributing to an increase in dental injuries, most notably, chipped teeth.
For a long time, sweets occupied first place on the list of foods detested by dentists, but popcorn is a definite rival. As well as posing a risk of chips and even fractures, popcorn is also a starchy food and most of us know all too well that it can get stuck in the teeth. Throw in the fact that most varieties are sprinkled with sugar or other sticky, sweet flavourings such as syrup, toffee or treacle, and popcorn is no longer the healthy treat many of us were looking for when we hit the local café with the best of intentions at lunchtime.
People often buy popcorn as a healthy alternative to crisps, cakes or chocolate bars, but close analysis will tell you that these products aren’t all that healthy, especially when it comes to your teeth. It’s easy for bits of popcorn to get stuck between the teeth and the kernels can be so hard that they break the teeth. Sales have soared by 50 percent this year alone while sales of crisps have fallen.
Dr Mark Hughes, a leading Harley Street dentist, claims that popcorn is one of the most common causes of dental injuries and the incidence of popcorn-related problems is increasing year on year. Just five years ago, around 1 in 20 cases was linked to popcorn, but Dr Hughes said that this figure is now more like 1 in 10.