The anatomy of a better burger

It’s that time of year when mouth-watering burgers are hitting the grill. Before you go grocery shopping for the ingredients, you should know that some parts of a burger are better for your smile than others. Let’s take a closer look.


Whether you choose a ciabatta roll or sesame-seed bun, the bread can really make the burger. Yet as you chew, that bun can break down into simple sugars and stick to your teeth. Bacteria feed on these sugars, forming acid that can damage your tooth enamel and cause tooth decay and gum disease. Try wrapping your burger with lettuce instead of a bun to add an extra crunch. If you don’t want to skip the bun, go for a whole-wheat option that contains more fiber, less sugar and isn’t as quick to stick to your teeth.


Turning your burger into a cheeseburger can help protect your smile. That’s because, as a dairy product, cheese neutralizes and fights off the negative effects of acids. It builds enamel and restores your teeth with calcium and phosphate, which are needed to prevent cavities.


Beef is a great source of iron, protein and vitamin B12, which are important for your oral and overall health. Not getting enough vitamin B12 can cause mouth ulcers, a swollen tongue and a burning sensation in your mouth. Choosing beef from grass-fed cows may have better health benefits, including up to five times as much omega-3 fatty acids, which research shows may help prevent gum disease. Prefer a meat-free option? Veggie and plant-based burgers can also be healthy choices if they contain vegetables, whole grains or beans.


While pickles and tomatoes may add some extra flavor to your burger, their acidity isn’t great for your smile. Having these as part of your meal, rather than by themselves, will help. A better addition to your burger may be leafy greens such as kale, spinach or lettuce. Not only are these greens high in calcium, they also contain folic acid, a B vitamin that could help prevent gum disease.


If you’re adding some ketchup or barbecue sauce, know that these tomato-based sauces contain lots of sugar and acid that can weaken your tooth enamel and leave your teeth more vulnerable to decay. Mustard and mayonnaise are also acidic because they’re made with vinegar. Be sure to combine these condiments with other foods, such as cheese, to help neutralize their acidity.



Research shows that adding raw onions to your burger could reduce the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. Just watch out for the bad breath it might cause!

Go ahead and fire up the grill. If it’s a burger you’re craving, you can counter the effects of a starchy bun and acidic toppings by choosing whole grains and adding some cheese and leafy green lettuce. Wash your burger down with some refreshing water to rinse your mouth of any leftover food.