News & Press
John C. Chao, D.D.S., M.A.G.D
Faculty, USC School of Dentistry
ALMOND ALERT! Almond Nuts Causing Epidemic of Broken Teeth
In the last few months virtually every day one or more patients have come in with cracked, broken or sensitive teeth. It’s an epidemic. The culprit is most often…ALMONDS. Recent publicity regarding the nutritional value of almonds has been abundant. These claims have basis in the numerous scientific studies dating as far back as the 1990’s. Most recently the International Society for Horticultural Science published the following statement: “Nuts have been shown to possess substances which significantly reduce risk of coronary heart disease, some types of cancer and several other diseases…” Hazelnuts, almonds as well as other nuts have been the subject of studies cited.
The nutritional value of almonds need not come at the expense of broken or cracked teeth. Almonds can be purchased in slivered form, albeit slightly more costly. Considering the cost of fillings and crowns, the cost of buying almonds in a “kinder” form is minimal. Another suggestion is to put almonds into a blender with milk or juices. Nutritional value is thus preserved without the risk of damaging teeth. While we are on the subject of foods damaging to teeth, be careful of the following:
- Popcorn. Popcorn is a favorite vehicle for losing weight, if no butter is used. Popcorn is easily substituted for more caloric snacks. However, there is always a chance of a stray kernel that can crack or damage teeth. These little kernels are as hard as rocks.
- Ice. Ice has more nutritional value than plain water. The pleasure of chewing on ice is again cracked teeth that may require costly dental restorations.
- Hard candy. Hard candy may be delightful treats, but may expose teeth to higher risk of decay and breakage. Certain kinds of cough drops are also hard. Do not chew them. Let them melt in your mouth.
- Foreign objects in food. Every now and then a patient reports having broken a tooth by biting on a tiny rock, sliver of metal or other kinds of foreign objects in his/her food. This could be food served at a restaurant or purchased from a supermarket. If this happens, you should notify the manager of the restaurant or market immediately. Preserve the foreign object and keep it in your possession. You may request reimbursement from the establishment for the expense of restoring the broken tooth.
Another important way you can reduce risk of heart disease and cancer is to remove all sources of infection in your mouth. Numerous studies have been cited in our previous columns about the association of systemic diseases to untreated oral infections, the most significant being pyorrhea or periodontal disease. If you have mouth odors, bad taste, bleeding or swollen gums, or broken down teeth be sure to see your dentist for diagnosis and treatment.
You should also contact your physician regarding the advisability of using nuts or any food supplement as a means of improving your health and lowering the risk of disease.
But if you do experience a sharp pain in the tooth or jaw when you bite on something hard, go to your dentist right away before the nerve in the tooth gets damaged and needs root canal treatment.
The first thing that I do when I’m trying to lose weight is substitute something with low calories for my usual snacks. Popcorn is a great substitute for chips and other salty snacks, but a stray kernel (and there is always a stray kernel, isn’t there?) that hits your teeth right can fracture or break your teeth. Another thing to be on the lookout for with popcorn is the stray kernel shard. Sometimes those little pieces can get right under your gums against your tooth and be nearly impossible to get out since it is suctioned to the tooth.
For further information you may contact Dr. Chao at ChickensWelcome.Com, or 626-308-9104.