Binge-Watching TV is Secretly Destroying Your Teeth

Couple on couch watching netflix tv shows

One of the “best” or “worst” things about today’s technology is that you can binge straight through your favorite TV series by watching every episode back-to-back-to-back through an entire weekend. Depending on your show of choice, you don’t have to wait a week between episodes; you can just click “watch next” from your remote and keep the movies rolling. If you needed a reason to make a lifestyle change, here are some examples of why binge-watching is bad for more than just your activity level.

Why Binge-Watching Is Bad For Our Teeth

You probably don’t think about your mouth when someone tells you why binge-watching is bad for your health. Instead, you probably think about your waistline. But your teeth are at-risk too. Because most binge-watching comes with snacks, drinks, and high carb diets. When you’re eating more frequently throughout the day (i.e., snacking or grazing for hours at a time) every single weekend, it’s going to catch up with your teeth.[1] Every time you put something into your mouth, your saliva mixes with those foods and creates an acid byproduct. In other words, you’ll see more enamel demineralization when you’re binge-watching shows all weekend than if you were up and about doing other things.

The Pandemic Didn’t Help With Forming New Bad Habits 

What wasn’t normal a year or two ago is now the norm. We’re talking about lifestyle changes and eating habits that we developed over the pandemic. When we couldn’t go out, we ordered take-out and delivery. In fact, it was good to get food delivered to you because it helped local businesses stay up and running. But a lot of those foods weren’t always healthy and we did it way too often…like every day. And chances are that we took them straight to the couch to watch TV. When we’re eating more slowly over a longer period of time (one reason why binge-watching is bad) instead of sitting down at the table, it leads to us eating more than normal and having greater contact time of food on our teeth.

1) Takeout

A lot of us don’t put much thought into the nutritional or caloric content when we order takeout. We simply order to appease our cravings and palate. If the serving sizes are too large or it’s loaded with carbs — and we sit at the TV for hours — we’re just going to be eating too much and generating excess dental plaque.

Alternative Solution 

Eat healthy but allow yourself to indulge once or twice a week. Section out the serving before you sit down, and put the other half in the fridge for later. It’s a win-win for your tastebuds and your teeth.  

2) Popcorn

It’s practically impossible to watch a movie and not eat popcorn. But most microwave popcorns and pre-bagged flavors have added ingredients that can stick to your teeth or have hidden calories and sugar.

Alternative Solution

Invest in an air popper and pop your own popcorn between shows. Air-popped popcorn is healthier because you don’t have the added oils and fats. Plus, it’s just “cleaner” to eat. You can control exactly what goes in it.

As an added bonus, popping your own popcorn takes a little longer than putting a bag in the microwave. Now that might not seem like a perk, but it gets you up and moving around, so you might be less likely to indulge in as many shows that day.

If you keep floss or floss picks on hand while you’re at the couch, eating popcorn might even help you with your oral hygiene routine. Since popcorn hulls tend to get stuck between teeth and around your gums easily, you’ll probably want to floss right after you eat it. The extra reason to floss will be great for your smile!

3) Ice Cream

The comfort food of all comfort foods: ice cream. Whether you prefer it in a big bowl or by the pint, it’s fine in moderation. But when it becomes a normal part of your TV or moving-binging routine, it means increase calories and added sugar. Not only is it “bad” for your teeth, but it also won’t help your waistline, blood sugar, or cholesterol levels.

Alternative Solution

Save the ice cream for afterward. It’ll encourage you to get up from the couch instead of “veg out” even longer. Otherwise, you won’t have an incentive to move on with your routine. And when you serve yourself a specific amount instead of sitting down with the whole carton, it’ll be better overall.  

4) Wine

A lot of “Netflix and chill” routines include a good glass — or bottle — of wine. But like everything else, it needs to be in moderation. Sipping on an acidic wine is fine here and there. The problem with binge-watching and wine drinking is that, once again, it’s taking place over a longer period of time and you’re taking in too much. Each sip is acid on your teeth.

Alternative Solution 

Tell yourself how much wine you’re going to have and set a timeline for when you’re going to enjoy it. Limiting yourself to one or two episodes is a good place to start. Then once your time is up, go rinse your mouth out with water!

Psychological Effects Of Binge-Watching 

Sitting for too long can increase your chances of heart disease, diabetes, and things like blood clots.[2] Even the lack of daylight (Vitamin D) and the increase of “blue” light can alter our circadian rhythms and sleep cycle. In turn, people tend to binge-watch TV even longer, and snack more throughout the process. There’s more to why binge-watching is bad than just eating too much. Psychologically and physically, it’s an unhealthy cycle all the way around.

Healthy Lifestyle = Healthier Teeth

Our mouths and bodies are interconnected. Great oral health starts with smart and healthy lifestyle choices that impact our wellness goes beyond just our waistline. The old saying “you are what you eat” is often influenced by our day-to-day hobbies. One of the reasons why binge-watching is bad, is because it tends to be repetitive each weekend or evening, rather than every now and then.

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