How Binge-Watching TV May Affect Your Teeth
Watch your mouth — literally. Here’s how the era of constant content could be affecting your oral health.
Let’s face it: these days, you can’t get to the new season of your favorite show without getting hit with a few #spoilers. In fact, if you can’t binge fast enough, you may as well avoid all social interactions (and the internet) until you’re done.
When it gets chilly outside, it’s hard to find an excuse not to spend the entire weekend letting auto-play take you from one episode to the next (and the next, and the next...). But have you ever thought about how your marathon consumption could affect your health?
In addition to the more obvious effects (prolonged sitting / lack of socialization and physical activity), studies have shown binge-watching can lead to poor sleep quality, increased fatigue and insomnia1. Marathon-viewing doesn’t just change how we consume content, but what we consume (often mindlessly) while watching. Here are some of the the most common binge-watching treats and drinks, and how they can affect your mouth.
There’s nothing like some good old fashioned popped corn to pair with your favorite TV show. Just ask Olivia Pope of “Scandal” (arguably the OG binge-watch), whose diet mostly consists of popcorn and red wine. But those pesky kernels! They get stuck between your teeth and under your gums, so be sure to floss after snacking to keep your mouth clean of debris. You *can* avoid your dentist finding those kernels weeks later (it actually happens more often than you think).
“Netflix and chill” is missing one essential thing: takeout. By the looks of Grubhub’s “Taste of 2019”report, people opt for convenience over health, a.k.a ingesting processed foods full of refined sugars. Take a break from the binge session and try to cook your own meals. Not only will you have a better idea of what’s going into your food, you’ll also save a few dollars.
Your favorite shows know you drink it. Like how “Stranger Things” revived New Coke (a soft drink from the 80s) before Season 3. Here’s the thing with sugars: they promote bacteria and break down enamel over time. Swap your soda for a non-acidic or non-sugary seltzer to get the benefits of the fizz without the fluff.
When you binge-watch your favorite show, your brain produces dopamine, which can give off a similar feeling of being high off drugs2. The same effect goes for that glass of red wine3. Here’s where things get dark (just like Petite Syrahs): the acidity in wine is bad for enamel and causes it to break down, resulting in stained teeth. But we’re not here to tell you to stop living your life. Simply brush (with your quip!) 30 minutes after finishing your glass, so your teeth remineralize after being exposed to the acid.
The next time you get cozied up for a night (or day) in front of your screen, remember that good oral health is also the key to overall health. Put a time limit on your streaming sessions? Or realistically, maybe just opt for more fibrous fruits and vegetables, to keep the treats above at a minimum. That way your mouth won’t suffer from that TV marathon.