The Best and Worst Ballpark Foods for Your Teeth

A man standing in the stands facing a baseball game holding nachos and a drink

“Take me out to the ball game. Take me out to the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and……a smoked BBQ sandwich with mac and cheese.” Wait. That’s not how that catchy tune goes, but these are just a few of the delicious foods you might find at spring training stadiums across the Valley.

From street tacos to ginger noodles, the game-day fare has gotten a little fancier these days. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find old fan favorites, like popcorn and pretzels, when hunger strikes. And let’s be honest, sometimes the best part about watching the game is the sizzling hot dog in your hand. With all this yummy food floating around we wouldn’t be very good oral health experts if we didn’t ask the question: Can you snack healthy during spring training and baseball season? If so, what are the most mouth healthy foods to eat at a game?

The Home Runs

  • Cheese: It may not be the lowest in fat or cholesterol, but cheese has calcium and protein, which helps strengthen tooth enamel (the hard surface of your tooth). Cheese also contains a protein that prevents bacteria from sticking to your teeth. Try adding a slice of cheddar cheese to your burger or sandwich for an added boost of flavor and calcium.
  • Nuts: Protein forms and repairs the cells in our bodies, and nuts contain a lot of protein. Nuts also have a lot of “good fats” that may decrease the chance of getting gum disease. Plus, foods with a lot of protein keep you feeling fuller longer. Try splitting a bag of peanuts with friends. Eating nuts in the shell will help you slow down and keep track of how many you’ve eaten. Just don’t use your teeth to break the shell. You’ll risk chipping or cracking a tooth, which can be seriously painful.
  • Veggies and Dip: Firm vegetables like broccoli and celery are full of fiber. Fiber stimulates saliva in your mouth that helps wash away food debris. Try swapping out a side of chips for some crunchy carrots and hummus.

Swing and a Miss

  • French Fries: In the grand scheme of things, a basket of fries is not the worst thing to eat. But it’s not the best either. That’s because refined carbohydrates (like those in potatoes and bread) break down into sugar. When this sugar mixes with the bacteria in your mouth it begins to erode your tooth enamel. If you must have spuds, swap out fries for a baked potato to avoid the deep-fried fats.
  • Hamburger: Even though a hamburger contains protein, it’s usually served between two pieces of bread and a lot of sugary ketchup. And a tablespoon-size serving of ketchup can have as much sugar as a typical chocolate chip cookie! Most of us probably aren’t measuring out our ketchup between innings, so find a mustard-based wrap or sandwich instead.

Three Strikes, They’re Out!

  • Soda: When you sip on sugary drinks, like soda, acids begin to attack your tooth enamel. These acids slowly erode the outermost layer of your teeth. Eventually, these acids move onto the next layer, dentin, and can cause cavities to take hold. Water is the best drink to quench your thirst, but If you’re craving something more flavorful than regular water, opt for naturally flavored sparkling water or unsweetened tea.
  • Cracker Jacks: Once you pop, it’s hard to stop, but popcorn—and specifically caramel-coated popcorn—are terrible on your teeth. Chewing on hard, unpopped kernels can cause a cracked tooth. Extra sticky foods like caramel corn stick to your teeth for a long time, allowing bacteria to form, which can eventually cause cavities.

Don’t let these curveballs stop you from having a blast. You can still hit it out of the park with these other healthy tips:

  • Share some with the team. Try splitting more indulgent snacks with friends and family to keep the portion size small.
  • Keep your eye on the prize. It’s tempting to order one of everything when you’re having fun but treat yourself to just one of your very favorite foods—it will keep sugar consumption in check.
  • Head for the bathroom during the 7th inning stretch. They give you a break during the game for a reason, right? Pack a little travel toothbrush and head for the bathroom during the 7th inning to brush away sugar and food residue.

For more mouth-healthy food ideas to get you into the summer spirit, book mark these other blog posts:

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