People have been binge-watching TV for decades. Once VCRs were available, some people would tape an entire week of soap operas and watch them on the weekend. And with two, three, or four episodes on a tape, you might rent your local video store’s entire selection of your favorite show and sit down for an evening of I Love Lucy.
Things got a little easier when cable TV networks found they could get a small but reliable viewership by running a lot of episodes of certain shows in a row.
But binge watching has gotten easier and more common than ever with the advent of streaming TV like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. And it’s gotten more damaging to your teeth, which could increase your need for reconstructive dentistry.
The Binge Watching Trend
In a recent survey, about half of people said they plan to binge-watch TV in the next three months. That is a lot more than could be expected to tune in to a weekend marathon of Bonanza.
And with streaming video, the binges can get much longer. Really, there is almost no limit to the length of the binge, but for a person’s willpower. All 695 episodes of Star Trek are (at the time of writing) available on Netflix. That’s nearly 580 hours of TV–more than 24 days straight of TV!
When people get involved in extensive TV binges, they can be putting their teeth at risk.
Binge Watching and Snacking
Snacking is one of the most damaging habits for your teeth. And binge watching promotes almost unlimited snacking. Remember, it’s the frequency of sugar intake that is most harmful to teeth and leads to cavities. People might start off with one snack, finish it off, then go for another. TV and snacking are commonly associated, and recent research shows that the more distracting the TV, the more you snack. People get on extra-long binges because they find the show engaging and distracting, and, as a result, they’re more likely to snack during binges.
Oral Hygiene Can Be Sacrificed
It’s no surprise that binge watching can lead you to neglect oral hygiene. After all, you’re neglecting family, friends, and the outside world (not to mention sleep)–why should oral hygiene be any different?
Irregular or inadequate oral hygiene can increase the likelihood that you might develop cavities or gum disease.
In order to prevent this, it’s important to control your binges and make sure oral hygiene doesn’t get neglected.
How to Control Binges and Prioritize Oral Hygiene
One of the most important things is to control your binges, not let them control you. Don’t just keep reaching for another episode because it’s so easy or you don’t have anything you need to be doing.
Instead, set aside time for your binges. Plan on it, and with the plan, plan your snacks and oral hygiene, too. Know when you’re going to stop snacking, and take that opportunity to brush and floss before you settle in for the rest of your binge. If you like, then you can let yourself crash on the couch.
You also need to make sure you’re making regular dental checkups to determine whether lifestyle changes (like a bad binge watching habit) are adversely affecting your oral health.