July is National Ice Cream Month, which may cause some to wonder, “what does ice cream do to my teeth?” Or more to the point, “can I eat ice cream and keep my teeth healthy?”
Let’s answer the second question first: Yes, you can eat ice cream and maintain a healthy smile. That is not, however, an endorsement for eating ice cream with impunity.
Ice cream has calcium. Calcium is good for teeth and bones. But the amount of calcium in ice cream is relatively small and likely offers very little benefit. That’s okay. You probably weren’t thinking of ice cream as a health food, anyway. Approaching ice cream for what it is, a sugary summery treat, we can better work to prevent the damage it has the potential of causing.
The sugar in ice cream, like the sugar in any treat, will speed tooth decay and may increase risks for tooth infection, gum disease, and other oral health problems. Brushing after eating ice cream can help remove these sugars and protect the teeth from damage. Drinking plenty of water before, while, and after eating ice cream is helpful as well. In fact, water is an unsung oral health hero. Not only does water flush debris from teeth, it helps keep saliva levels high, which is essential for a healthy mouth.
You can reduce the damage ice cream has the potential of causing by choosing flavors that are not artificially colored and avoiding add-ins like candy and cookie dough. Add-ins increase the level of sugar in ice cream and some, especially gummy varieties, can damage restorations. Colored ice cream can cause tooth discoloration, a less worrisome but still unpleasant side-effect.
This National Ice Cream Month, feel free to enjoy this delicious treat. Just be aware of what it can do to your smile and take steps to minimize the damage.
If it has been more than six months since your last dental visit, call 713-668-2289 to schedule an appointment with experienced Houston dentist, Dr. Ronald Konig.