With the advent of cable TV, cable programmers discovered they could get reliable audiences for large blocks of otherwise revenue-poor time by doing marathons of their most popular shows. However, binge watching is becoming a more popular way for Americans to consume television, and with it are coming some bad habits that can be damaging to your oral health.

The Binge Watching Trend

Binge Watching TVStreaming video services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime make it easier for people to binge watch. Instead of waiting for the Mach Men network to decide that a Starsky & Hutch marathon is a good programming decision, people can now pick whatever show they want to binge on and queue up as many episodes as they want, often with access to the full run of a show. This can result in much more frequent–and longer–binge watching sessions. An hour-long show with seven seasons may be over 150 hours of TV–more than 6 days!–much longer than your typical cable marathon, which, at most, lasted a weekend.

Although two-thirds have binge-watched at some point in their lives, about half of people said they expect to binge-watch TV in the next three months. This will lead to increasing frequency of binge watching and longer binges.

Binge Watching and Snacking

One of the ways that binge watching is bad for your oral health is that it often coincides with snacking binges. People don’t usually plan to do binge watching. They typically start with just one or two episodes, often selecting a favorite snack to enjoy while watching. Then they find themselves “sucked in” and just keep watching.

This addictive behavior often affects their snacking habits, too. Another episode, another snack. And although there aren’t commercial breaks for getting up to get yourself a snack, people can pause the episode at any time to get more food, and they often find they are snacking more.

Oral Hygiene Can Be Sacrificed

Binge watching can be very bad for your oral hygiene. Binge watchers break out of their normal routine. They often watch until falling asleep during an episode, sleeping on the couch or in a recliner. This means that after a long night of snacking they aren’t going through their nightly regimen of brushing and flossing, which can increase the risk of cavities and gum disease.

Control Binges and Prioritize Oral Hygiene

To avoid damaging your teeth and putting yourself at risk for gum disease because of binge watching TV, it’s best to take control of binging habits. This doesn’t mean stopping binging, it just means not letting yourself fall into the habit. Plan binges appropriately–and plan to make them less damaging. Know when you’re going to binge and snack appropriately. Start out with a snack during the first episode, but don’t get yourself more. Instead, after the second episode or so, take a break for oral hygiene. Brush and floss, then settle in for the rest of the night. Let yourself fall asleep on the couch if it’s comfortable, but do so in the knowledge that you’re all ready for bed.

And don’t forget to make your regular dental checkups. We’ll be able to tell you if what you’re doing is adequate to protect your teeth, or if you need to make changes. We can also find small cavities and use tooth-colored fillings to protect your teeth before the problem gets too bad.

If you are looking for a Philadelphia dentist who can help protect your teeth, please call (610) 272-0828 for an appointment at Dental Excellence of Blue Bell.