Oh to appreciate the simple pleasures in life: that first sip of coffee in the morning, a walk in the park on a beautiful spring day, seeing a much-anticipated movie in a theatre with a large bag of freshly popped popcorn on your lap. But you better be careful…you don’t want to burn your lip or spill coffee down your brand new shirt, you don’t want to step through a patch of poison ivy as you behold nature’s beauty, and you certainly don’t want to crack your tooth on an un-popped kernel of corn during the coming attractions.
While I can’t cite any research statistics, I can tell you that in the last two months I have seen six emergency patients whose teeth have cracked while munching popcorn and another two patients with local gum abscesses from pieces of brown popcorn husk wedged under the gum.
A typical popcorn movie muncher will begin the epicurean experience by daintily using just their fingertips to lift those fluffy puffs to the lips. As the corn disappears inside the bag the hand delves deeper into the container and scoops out a more generous portion that finds its way into one’s waiting mouth. The savory stimulation spurs further almost autonomic shoveling of the snack into the recesses of the oral cavity where the mindless mastication of the soft made-for-the movies maize continues, until…CRACK! A tooth has just struck an unanticipated obstacle, the un-popped kernel, and the damage is done.
Perhaps a piece of an existing filling has broken off leaving a jagged edge. Maybe an entire cusp broke off leaving the tooth exposed and sensitive. Or even worse, maybe the tooth split in half (not a promising scenario). Regardless of the specifics of the dental injury, an immediate visit to the dentist will be required.
A tooth will most commonly break when one unexpectedly bites into something hard; an olive pit, a piece of grizzle, sand in a spinach salad and of course the rogue hard kernel of popcorn. Foods that are known to have “hazardous debris” must be approached with care. Popcorn is delicious and nutritious (only 31 calories in one cup of air popped corn without butter). Just be aware of what usually lies at the bottom of the bag and try to make it last at least until the end of the trailers.
In the event that this situation ever happens to you (and I hope it doesn’t!) make sure you know what to do if your tooth cracks or you lose a crown.
Dr. Michael Sinkin is an NYC dentist that has been in practice for over two decades. He truly cares about the experience his patients have and takes great pride in making them feel relaxed and comfortable during every visit. Come in for an appointment and experience a different kind of dental practice. Find out more about the doctor here: Dr. Sinkin.