Corn is one of the most versatile whole grain crops in the world. The plant can be converted to fuel, drinkable alcohol and is used to bolster the adhesive quality of industrial glue. Maize is also one of the most popular food sources in the world in all of its forms including off the cob, popped, grits, hominy, polenta, starch and syrup, but when it comes to dental health, some choices are better than others.
America is the largest producer of the world's corn supply; statistics from the National Corn Growers Association state that 12 billion bushels were grown nationally in 2011. Not all crops are meant for human food consumption; approximately 40 percent of maize is grown for fuel, another large segment is dedicated to the production of additives such as high fructose corn syrup, starches and oils and the amount allotted for food is last on the list. What form of maize ingested can impact oral health.
For thousands of years, popcorn has been a popular snack especially in the Americas. When properly heated, the water and oils naturally in a kernel of corn will expand and voila, the treat is born. Proof indicating that Native Americans noshed on the food in 3600 B.C. was unearthed in New Mexico. During the great depression the food was still incredibly popular because the price point was so low. Popping corn is still inexpensive, air popped popcorn can be made for pennies a serving, plus research has found that it is one of the healthiest snacks out there.
A popped kernel of corn contains cereal germ, endosperm and bran, officially allowing it to be categorized as a whole grain by nutrition experts and as listed as such on the government's nutrition plate. As a result the food is an excellent low-calorie source of dietary fiber (thanks to the popcorn hulls), perfect for individuals looking to make the best food choices for their teeth and dental care. Studies have shown that fiber rich foods can help lower levels of dental plaque and can help reduce the odds of dental problems including tooth decay, cavities, gum disease and tooth loss.
Additionally, research has found that those hulls (the little yellow shells of popcorn that easily get lodged in between teeth) are extremely dense in polyphenols. Scientists have found that popcorn has up to polyphenols 300 milligrams, a healthy dosage that can do wonders to help lower the levels of inflammation in those suffering from gum disease.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is one of the most popular food additives produced from corn. During processing, corns whole grain elements are stripped, leaving cornstarch behind. The starch then undergoes an enzymatic process to convert glucose into fructose and the result is a sweetener that is used as an additive in soda, breads, cereals, ketchups, soups and slews of processed foods. Despite the natural roots of HFCS, the additive is known for contributing to health issues like America's obesity and cavity epidemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have proclaimed that childhood cavities are the most chronic (yet preventable) epidemic impacting the health of the nation's children. New research has shown that dentists across the nation agree as they have reported an increase of preschoolers of all income levels sporting multiple cavities and tooth decay on baby teeth and have been relying on the powers of general anesthesia to help deliver the essential dental treatments to improve the conditions. Many nutritional experts agree that the over consumption of HFCS are negatively impacting the situation.
Dental caries are a type of tooth decay prompted by the release of acid byproducts by oral bacteria charged with the task of removing sugar and starch deposits left behind on teeth after eating. The opinion of the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who consume soda and other HFCS foods have a greater chance of developing dental problems than their healthier eating counterparts.
Anyone who has had fresh sweet corn on the cob has fallen in love with naturally sweet food. Harvested young and when the starch is in its "milk stage" the food can be boiled, steamed or roasted and provide natural goodness as well as some challenges to dental health.
Sweet corn does deliver a nutritional wallop as it is rich in many nutrients important for dental health including fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, thiamin and vitamin C (an especially important vitamin for those recovering from oral surgery).
However, those perks can easily be counterbalanced by not properly implementing oral hygiene after eating corn off the cob. Maize in this form is one of the most difficult to eat neatly and after the fact, most people will find that stray food particles end up wedged in between teeth. In order to counterbalance that reality as well as staving off dental plaque from banding together to remove the food, flossing teeth will act as a type of preventative dentistry.
Individuals looking to have their corn and eat it too are advised to avoid processed versions of the stuff and stick to popped or fresh of the cob to get the most nutritional value from the food. Additionally, skipping the add-ons such as oil, butter and salt are suggested as in addition to adding flavor, the condiments will also contribute factors that may negate the health benefits of maize. After eating corn, individuals are advised to drink water (to naturally wash away trace elements left behind), wait a half hour (for tooth enamel to reharden) and then implement oral hygiene to remove food stuck between teeth. For more tips on the "Amaizing Way Corn Impacts Dental Health," feel free to call 1-800-Dentist to schedule a dental appointment in order to ask your dentist directly!