The Fourth of July is known for the three F’s: Fireworks, Friends and Food.
The sizzling of the BBQ and the cold drinks are ubiquitous to this time of year. America celebrates July 4th as Independence Day because it was on July 4, 1776, that members of the Second Continental Congress adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence.
Following its adoption, the Declaration was read to the public in many American cities. Whenever they heard it, patriots erupted in cheers and celebrations.
One year later, in 1777, Philadelphians commemorated the 4th of July for the first time. Bells were rung, guns fired, candles lit and firecrackers set off.
While the celebrations have been ringing out since the birth of this nation, the history of barbecue on the holiday isn’t quite as antiquated. Colonists would smoke large animals over fire pits in the summer to preserve meat for winter, but it wasn’t until the early 19th-century that this tradition was merged with Independence Day celebrations.
It was a common practice back in the day that political leaders would host rallies on the 4th, and they would draw people in with food and drink. Farmers would donate much meat, vegetables and fruits for these rallies, and people would eat and listen to the politicians.
As the times changed, the barbecue became less about politics and more about families and friends. Today, it’s estimated that there will be around 150-million hotdogs eaten along with about 750-million pounds of chicken, and190-million pounds of red meat this year alone.
With all this food being consumed, it is important to remember your oral health (yes, we went there)! Below are the best and worst of foods to bear in mind to enjoy a happy AND healthy 4th this year!
While a smoked rack of ribs is a proud Texas tradition, it’s actually one of the worst barbecued meats when it comes to the health of your teeth. The sweet caramelized sauce that coats the ribs is both sticky and full of sugar. It can easily cling to your teeth and get stuck in the cracks and crevices. There is a reason that toothpicks are never too far when you are eating ribs!
In addition, the sauce cooks unevenly on the rib, which leads to some places extremely hard once fully cooked. Bite into it wrong, and you can easily suffer a cracked tooth or displaced crown.
Finally, the bone itself can do damage if you bite into it. Unfortunately, while delicious, spare ribs have very little redeeming value for the health of your mouth. And we’re sorry to say it! Moderation is a good rule if you must sink your teeth into some spares.
Without the sauce, your meat is just “meat thrown on the grill.” However, the bases of most BBQ sauces are sugar and vinegar. These two ingredients are major oral health offenders.
For one, sugar increases the production of bad bacteria in the mouth that can lead to tooth decay, and for two the acid of vinegar can wear away the enamel on your teeth.
And as a final “detractor,” the deep red color associated with many sauces can actually stain your teeth. Due to these qualities, it’s wise to limit the amount of BBQ sauce you eat. Again, moderation! If you do choose to indulge on July 4th, don’t forget to drink water while eating to help wash away the bacteria.
If you’re standing outside on July 4th in North Texas, it will most likely be VERY hot, and many people find sipping a margarita a great way to stay cool. However, this Texas-favorite may actually be one of the worst for your teeth!
First, it’s important to examine what a margarita is made of: alcohol, lime juice and simple syrup. The tequila will decrease saliva flow in the mouth, which inhibits the mouth’s natural ability to wash away food particles. Next, lime juice’s acidity can erode tooth enamel, which can damage the teeth and increase sensitivity. Finally, the simple syrup is a glorified term for sugar and water. The longer you sip on sugary drinks, the longer the sugar lingers on the teeth, thereby increasing the risk of cavities and tooth decay.
It’s not all bad news! Don’t shy away from cheese this summer, for instance. Whether it tops a burger or is on a delicious cheese tray, this a is mouth-friendly option to snack on. Dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese are low in sugar and rich in calcium and phosphorous, which strengthen and protect enamel. Research also suggests that eating more dairy may lower your chances for developing gum disease.
Fruit infused water
Staying hydrated is key for remaining healthy at an outdoor barbecue in the summer heat. Instead of opting for sugary drinks like sodas, juices or cocktails, seek out fruit-infused water. While it’s important to avoid over adding citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and lime due to their acidity, you can choose blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and watermelon for a tasty and refreshing treat.
Seeking out onions at a party may seem counterintuitive since they typically give you bad breath (at best) or leave people repulsed when you move in for a kiss (at worse). However, sticking a couple of onions on a burger or BBQ sandwich can help your mouth healthy!
The onion is known to eliminate bacteria that can cause cavities and gum disease. If you choose to indulge, just remember your sugar free gum to freshen up your mouth afterward!
Brighten up any food spread with seedless fruits. Choose crunchy fruits like apples and pears or other hydrating favorites like grapes and seedless watermelon to add to your menu. These fruits are full of water that will help increase saliva production and help wash away food that may have gotten stuck in your teeth.
While eating barbecue all the time could be detrimental to your oral health, we know that most of you will serve it this week. Just like with anything, this favorite time of year includes foods that are fine in moderation. If you choose to serve up a traditional barbecue, make sure to offer options like toothpicks or sugar free gum to help your guests freshen up as they go. We hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th of July this year!