Now that we’re officially in summer, let’s talk about some of the things that makes summer in Rochester so great. Like not being in Phoenix and enjoying all the wonderful foods that summer has to offer.

However, when you dive into these common summer treats, you may want to use a little more caution than you have in the past, because these can be bad for your oral health. One of the principles of  holistic dentistry is that a healthy diet is a critical foundation for oral health. It’s important to be aware of which foods can pose a danger to your oral health.

Saltwater Taffy Candy Background.

Salt Water Taffy

Summer just wouldn’t be complete without a road trip. And no road trip is complete without stopping in at least one tourist trap town. And if you stop in one of these little tourist towns, you’re probably going to find at least one candy shop that proudly proclaims the sale of salt water taffy, a tourist treat in the US for over a century. Since its invention in Atlantic City in the late 19th century, it has been associated with tourist destinations throughout the US, especially those trying to create an old-fashioned atmosphere.

If you like saltwater taffy and regularly make it a part of your vacations, you might want to cut back. Salt water taffy is loaded with sugars like most candy, but it’s also sticky. This means that some of the taffy will cling to your teeth and feed oral bacteria for hours after you eat it. In fact, it can be so sticky that it’s been known to pull out restorations, like fillings or dental crowns! Good reasons to limit your consumption of this admittedly tasty treat.

Ice Cream

Summer isn’t complete without enjoying a cone of cold ice cream on a hot day. Even Wonder Woman has extensive praise for this delightful summer treat. But we have to acknowledge that ice cream isn’t always the best for our teeth.

The coldness of ice cream can put your teeth into thermal shock and potentially contribute to cracking in your enamel. But the most pronounced effect of ice cream is that it can trigger sensitivity. It will tell you if you have thinned enamel, exposed roots, and even the early stages of decay. And then there’s the high sugar content of the treat.

The good news is that ice cream isn’t as bad as it could be. Dairy has nutrients that can help repair your teeth, and it also helps neutralize acids in the mouth. Frozen yogurt is even better, since it includes protective enzymes that can stifle the growth of oral bacteria.

Baked Beans

Mmmm . . . baked beans. What used to be a staple of the cowboy trail has now become a standard feature at American barbecues across the country. Every family has their own recipe, but one thing that almost all these recipes share is that they have a huge amount of sugar.

One popular baked beans recipe, for example, has 35 grams of sugar per serving! That’s one and a half times the amount of sugar you’re supposed to eat each day, and almost as much as a can of Coke (39 grams).

You’re not the only one who is enjoying those beans, you can bet: oral bacteria are going wild every time you tuck into a plate.


A cool glass of lemonade is one of the most characteristic drinks of summer. It’s sweet, cool, and tangy, with just enough make lounging on the porch seem old timey and celebratory.

Unfortunately, though, lemonade is one of the worst beverages for your teeth. Lemon juice is probably the most acidic fruit juice, and although it’s diluted with water, it remains very acidic. And it’s loaded with sugar to try to counter the sour taste of the lemonade. So you’ll get both acidic erosion from the lemon juice and attack from your oral bacteria.

We’re not saying you have to give it up your lemonade, but maybe intersperse it with water.

Corn on the Cob

Corn on the cob is overall, a healthy treat. It tastes sweet, but it’s not actually high in sugar. It has only about 5 grams of sugar in a large ear.

The problem with corn on the cob is that it can be stressful on your incisors. It’s a little tough. And the parts of corn can get caught between your teeth and irritate your gums. Of course, this isn’t as hard on your gums as popcorn is, but it can still be uncomfortable if your gums are tender.

It’s also a crucial test for your dentures. If your dentures can’t handle corn on the cob, maybe it’s time to consider dentures that are secured with dental implants!

BBQ Ribs

When properly cooked, BBQ ribs will come right off the bone, so they’re not a challenge to eat, although the fibers can still get between your teeth and irritate your gums.

The problem with ribs and other BBQ foods is the sauce. BBQ sauce is often very acidic, and it can be high in sugar, about 6 grams per tablespoon! So although the sauce is delicious, it’s a good idea to go light on it.

Sports Drinks

Summer activities can be very draining. You sweat buckets, and you need something cool and refreshing, especially in the hot humid weather of Rochester.

You want something to drink that is not only cool and refreshing, it’s replenishing. Or, at least, that’s what sports drinks companies want you to believe.

The truth is that sports drinks are loaded with sugar and acid–as much or more than a can of soda–and they can be very damaging to your teeth. Drink them sparingly. Rely on water for your hydration most of the time, and when you do drink sports drinks, chase them with water to clean your teeth.

When Problems Crop Up

So what do you do if your summer foods cause or reveal a problem with your teeth? If you’re in the Rochester, NY area, you call Contemporary Dentistry for help. We offer emergency dental services if you need them!

If you are looking for a dentist in Rochester, please call (585) 244-3337 today for an appointment at Contemporary Dentistry.