If you're someone who enjoys eating sunflower seeds in the shell, it's important to realize how they affect your teeth. Sunflower seeds offer nutritional value — they're high in protein and healthy fats, and munching on them can discourage you from snacking on things that aren't as healthy for you or for your teeth. However, eating them in the wrong way can damage your teeth. Here are some dos and don'ts of eating sunflower seeds that you'll want to keep in mind.
Do: Move Them Around Your Mouth
A common way to eat shelled sunflower seeds is to toss a handful in your mouth and upon them one at a time — spitting the shell out after you eat the seed. As you do so, don't be afraid of moving the seeds around your mouth. You'll feel them scrape over your teeth, and this is actually a good thing. Because of their hard surface, the seeds can actually help to remove stains from your teeth. If you chew sunflower seeds a lot, your dentist may notice bright, clean teeth during your next checkup.
Don't: Chew To The Point Of Gum Irritation
Sunflower seed shells have sharp points on them, which can result in some gum irritation at times. Don't make the mistake of chewing of your seeds until your gums hurt. If you start to notice some mild gum soreness, wrap up your chewing session and don't resume until your gums feel better. Sore gums aren't just a nuisance — they can also be disruptive to your dental health because you might skip flossing or brush only lightly when your gums are sore.
Do: Choose A Low-Salt Flavor
Sunflower seeds are available in many different flavors, so you won't have any trouble finding a flavor that you enjoy. Many of these flavors are high in sodium, which is problematic for your overall health. It's also a concern for your dental health, as salty products can cause your mouth to become dry. A dry mouth is a good breeding ground for bacteria, as the mouth lacks the saliva that is needed to rinse the bacteria away.
Don't: Chew If You Have Dental Work
If you've had some dental work done — veneers, dental implants, or other similar work — you should abstain from chewing sunflowers. Their hard nature could potentially threaten your dental work, leaving you in need of scheduling an emergency appointment to have a problem repaired.
Don't hesitate to discuss sunflower seeds at your next dental appointment. Contact a dentist like Mainwaring John D DDS to learn more.