Who doesn’t love a nice bowl of ice cream on a hot summer day? No matter the flavor, it always hits the spot. But is it the best option when it comes to safeguarding your smile? Is ice cream bad for your teeth? Unfortunately, this sweet treat isn’t ideal if you want to protect your pearly whites against tooth decay and cavities; however, there are four things you can do to minimize your risk while enjoying your favorite dessert.
Ice Cream and Your Teeth: Potential Pitfalls
Yes, eating ice cream is an enjoyable treat no matter how old you are. Whether it comes in a cup or cone, it’s hard to beat when summer temperatures continue to rise, but the reality is that it can wreak havoc on your smile if you’re not careful.
Ice cream contains a lot of sugar, and according to the USDA, 14 grams of it can be found in a half cup of vanilla ice cream. If you’re like most adults, you’re probably eating a lot more than that, which means your daily intake of sugar is much higher than it should be. Eating too much sugar (or starch) can cause cavities to form over time. Without proper treatment, they can grow and spread to the inner layers of your tooth, resulting in root canals or even tooth extractions.
Ice cream is also known for causing teeth to hurt. If your tooth enamel is worn down or you’re experiencing gum recession, you are more at risk for tooth sensitivity. This once enjoyable treat can quickly become bothersome or even painful to consume.
4 Ways to Enjoy Your Favorite Ice Cream This Summer
While it is recommended that you avoid ice cream altogether, it’s highly unlikely that children and adults like yourself are going to give up this sweet treat. To minimize the potential for cavities or tooth sensitivity, here are 4 tips to remember when enjoying your favorite chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, or uniquely flavored ice cream concoction:
- Eat it in moderation – Eating ice cream now and then is less likely to cause significant damage to your teeth; however, if you’re eating it every day, you’re at a much higher risk for tooth decay. Learn to enjoy your desserts in moderation.
- Forgo the toppings – Chocolate syrup, sprinkles, candy, or even caramel sauce can add calories and grams of sugar to your dessert. Try to minimize or forgo these additions to reduce the potential for cavities.
- Opt for sugar-free – Instead of requesting two scoops of chocolate in a waffle cone, try frozen yogurt or sorbet. Sugar-free options are also a better option than traditional ice cream.
- Maintain good oral hygiene – Immediately after you’ve finished eating your dessert, rinse with a cup of water and brush your teeth to remove harmful food particles.
With the right tips and tricks this summer, you can still have your ice cream and eat it, too!
About the Author
Dr. Mariliza LaCap has more than two decades of experience working in the oral healthcare field. At Washington Dental Associates, she and her team believe in the power of preventive care. Offering numerous services to safeguard smiles, she also provides patients with helpful tips to minimize the risk of cavities and gum disease in-between appointments. Contact us at (201) 453-4863 to learn what you can do to enjoy your favorite summer foods and beverages without putting your smile in danger.