Be honest, who doesn’t love popcorn? Whether you’re in a cool theater watching the latest blockbuster or enjoying some Netflix time at home, popcorn can be a fairly healthy option. Unlike a bag of potato chips, popcorn has relatively low calories and way more fiber, making it the perfect option if you’re on a diet. Plus, gourmet popcorn is a thing. Why stick with plain butter when you now have options like “black truffle” and “Italian spirit campari”? Or why not skip the butter entirely when making at it home, and try lime and cilantro instead? Although popcorn has enjoyed more and more popularity over the years, it’s not all good news. While it may be good for your gut, it’s not so great for your teeth.

What’s Wrong With Popcorn?

The culprit isn’t the popcorn itself, but the unpopped kernels that hide in each bag. Biting down on an unpopped kernel can result in a chipped or cracked tooth. That’s why dentists have been seeing twice as many popcorn-related problems in their waiting rooms than they did just three years ago. In fact, some British dentists report that as many as one in ten of their emergency cases has popcorn to blame.

While the unpopped kernels are the main source of major tooth injuries hiding in your popcorn bag, there are other risks that come with the supposedly healthy snack, too. The thin, hard husks can easily get stuck between teeth and even below the gumline, causing inflammation, and in some severe cases, even abscesses. While this problem is notably growing in the United Kingdom right now, the resurgence of popcorn in the United States might similarly endanger our teeth on this side of the pond.

How to Protect Your Teeth

There are plenty of less dangerous snacks that can replace popcorn as your go-to movie accompaniment. Fresh fruits and vegetables are healthy to munch on, with carrots and celery even offering the satisfying crunch you may miss if you give up popcorn. If it’s savory starches you’re looking for, toast or crackers don’t pose a risk of breaking your teeth.

Of course, you don’t have to completely ditch popcorn to protect your teeth from the risks. There are some precautions you can take the make the snack safer. We tend to eat popcorn while distracted by a movie or TV show, which is why we can be caught unawares by an unpopped kernel. This can be solved by eating popcorn one at a time (rather than by the handful), or simply paying more attention to what’s going into your mouth before you start chewing. As for the husks, flossing immediately after eating popcorn can keep them from nesting themselves under your gumline. And if you notice that you have a husk you can’t remove, see a dentist quickly, before the problem can worsen.

In fact, seeing a dentist at least once every six months is a good idea for your whole mouth. Regular checkups can ensure that your teeth get the attention they deserve. Complications like cavities and gum disease don’t happen overnight. And the earlier they’re caught, the easier they are to treat.

If you are looking for a quality dentist in midtown Manhattan, please call 212-557-8668 today for an appointment with Dr. Karthilde Appolon at Appolon Dental Group in Columbus Circle.