Apparently Popcorn Is Bad for Us Now Too

The number of popcorn-related tooth injuries has doubled over the past three years in the UK, going from around 5 percent of cases to one in ten.
Phoebe Hurst
London, GB
Photo via Flickr user Jessica Spengler 

At some point over the last few years, the way we ate popcorn changed. Instead of being doused in hot oil and sugar and eaten in buckets at the cinema, it became a healthy (ish) snack. This rebranded popcorn was like crisps, but less salty, high in fibre, and wholegrain. It came in cute bags and was flavoured with cinnamon, coconut, natural sea salt, or paprika. Supermarkets began stocking "posh popcorn" and crisp sales tumbled. David Cameron admitted to being a fan.

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Which, really, should have been the first warning sign that the sweet and salty snack might not be all good. Here's the second one: dentists say that popcorn is to blame for the rise in chipped teeth and other dental problems.

As The Daily Telegraph reports, the number of popcorn-related injuries seen by dentists has doubled over the past three years, going from around 5 percent of cases to one in ten.

The problem with popcorn is that unpopped kernels often lurk at the bottom of packets and can crack or break teeth if chewed. Even fully popped corn causes problems, often getting trapped between teeth and becoming difficult to remove with brushing or flossing. In extreme cases, corn husks get stuck beneath the gum line and lead to inflammation or abscesses.

Dr. Uchenna Okoye of London Smiling Dental Group told The Telegraph that the absent-minded way in which many of us munch popcorn also causes problems, as teeth bang and slip together to create fissures. She added: "Hard-boiled sweets and toffees were the major cause of broken teeth and dental trauma, but they have been overtaken by popcorn and the number of cases is increasing all the time now that it is such a popular snack."

She isn't the only dentist to express concern at our teeth-traumatising popcorn habit. Dr. Mark Hughes, a senior partner at the Harley Street Dental Group also told the newspaper: "In my 25 years as a dentist, popcorn is easily among the top five reasons for broken teeth. Five years ago, I would perhaps see one case of a broken tooth in 20 caused by popcorn but in the last two or three years, that has risen to one in ten and the number is only going up."

Maybe it's back to the salt and vinegar crisps then?