The State Fair is by and large one of the biggest events in Oklahoma, bringing people together from all over the state to partake in fun, games – and most importantly – food. Of course, fairs mean any number of sweet, savory or fried creations, and the novelty of those items are what brings in curious consumers.
In an effort to protect your smile, we’ve put together a list of must-haves, try-to-avoids and what to do when you encounter a can’t-help-yourself snack.
What We Recommend
While plenty of fair foods could have adverse effects on your overall health, it’s sugar that matters when it comes to the strength of your smile. The bacteria in our mouths feed off sugars and weakens your enamel, leaving it yellowed and at risk for cavities.
However, for every deep-fried food-on-a-stick, other options can be just as satisfying (and much better for your health). It’s tempting to go overboard, but moderation is key, so try swapping out would-be sugar feasts for some of these healthier alternatives:
Grilled Meat: Whether it’s beef, chicken, pork or more, these protein-packed snacks are straight forward and will help you fill up before you go overindulge on fried foods, plus most of them come on a convenient stick for walking around the fair.
- Fresh Fruit: Either served as smoothies or chilled on a skewer, you can find fruit around the fair. If you’re having a hard time finding plain fruit, opt for some covered in dark chocolate – yes, we’re serious – which boasts a compound called CBH that helps to strengthen your enamel.
- Tea: If you opt for one of the refillable cups at the State Fair, unsweet tea can be a more enjoyable alternative to water, while being better for you than sugary lemonade. Staying hydrated is important but being sure to drink throughout the day will help to wash away excess sugar or stickiness from other fair foods from your teeth.
- Cheese: Cheese is rich in calcium and protein and can help neutralize the acidity of other foods. It can actually raise the pH of your mouth and help lower the risk of tooth decay.
- Grilled Corn: There are a ton of varieties on grilled and street corn at the fair, and it’s surprisingly teeth-friendly because of its low sugar count. So go ahead and indulge in some delicious corn (as long as you’re not in braces).
What You Should Limit
We get it – it’s the State Fair, you’re here for the food. However, moderation is key. We’ve broken down the science behind why these foods can be damaging to your smile so that you can plan ahead for indulging responsibly.
- Lemonade: There’s not much that’s more refreshing in the heat of an Oklahoma summer like a cold glass of lemonade, but when it’s as packed with sugar as those you can find at the State Fair, you’re sipping down a lot more sugar than you’ll want coating your teeth. If you do have to have it, try to drink the whole cup in a half hour and avoid sipping on it all day. Rinse your mouth with water once you finish to wash away the sugar still lingering on your teeth.
- Candy Apples: Whether candied or caramel, these apples seem like the devil’s advocate of fair foods since under all that sugar is a piece of fruit. However, trying to get to the apple portion through hard candy can be a disaster for fair-goers with crowns, bridges, retainers or braces. Aside from the sugar in these treats, it’s sticky, which means that until you brush that sugar isn’t going anywhere.
- Giant Turkey Leg: Chemistry is at work when indulging in this practically prehistoric 1lb. treat; yes, it’s low in sugar, but there’s so much sodium (six days’ worth of the recommended daily limit) that it causes your body to overproduce calcium to try and neutralize it. When you’re expending that much calcium, you’re putting your teeth at risk. Our advice? Make sure you have plenty of friends to share with.
- Deep-Fried Anything: Funnel cakes, Oreos, sticks of butter – there is no limit to what people will stick in a fryer for the sake of novelty. Aside from the fact that most of the fried foods found at the fair are loaded with carbohydrates and sugar as well as blood pressure raising levels of cholesterol, the saturated fats in these fried foods stick to your teeth and can increase your risk of developing cavities.
- Cotton Candy: Also known as candy floss, cotton candy is simply spun sugar. And while you know that sugar feeds the bacteria on your teeth, what you might not realize is that the sucrose found in cotton candy can help plaque form and stick to your teeth, especially since it takes extra saliva to get it down. If you already have sensitivity in your teeth, you might want to skip this sweet treat.
State Fair Snack Kit
If you’re committed to trying all the food the fair has to offer: snack smart and plan ahead so that you’re not left with sticky food stuck to your teeth, or sugar trapped below your gum line. Plan to bring a toothbrush and toothpaste, as well as some dental floss (this is especially important if you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment).
If you forgot your own toothbrush or floss, be sure to swing by our booth in the Bennett Event Center for your chance to win those and other great prizes at our Plinko Board.
Other good items include sugar-free gum to increase your saliva and wash away sugars, and water to help keep you hydrated and rinse away food residue.
What’s your favorite fair food? What’s the craziest concoction you’ve seen at the State Fair? Tell us on Twitter @DentalDepotOK using #DepotAsks. We’ll see you for the final weekend at the Oklahoma State Fair!