How snacking affects your dental health

How snacking affects your dental health

Eating habits and good choices can lead to tooth decay. Sugary foods and drinks, including sports drinks can damage teeth. Snacking throughout the day can also lead to tooth decay. If you don’t brush, plaque will accumulate on the teeth.

Plaque thrives on the starches and sugars that are found in a great deal of foods. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria. When you do not remove plaque from your teeth daily, it builds up. Plaque bacteria use sugar to produce acids that attack enamel, the hard surface of the tooth. These acids are powerful enough to dissolve the hard enamel that covers your teeth. That’s how cavities get started.

If you don’t eat much sugar, the bacteria can’t produce as much of the acid that eats away enamel. The acid attacks the tooth enamel for up to 20 min after you eat or drink. When you keep sipping on sugary drinks all day the the acid attacks the enamel again and again. Repeated acid attacks cause tooth decay.

Choosing a healthy diet

When choosing a snack think about what is in it, is it too sweet? Is it too chewy or gummy? The more chewy or the more gummy the snack the worse it is for your teeth. They stay in your teeth and in between your teeth longer than foods you just quickly chew and swallow. Think about how many times a day you snack. Do you snack all day or do you just leave the sugary treats for after dinner? The more times you snack a day, the more chance you have of getting cavities and plaque build-up. Damaging acids form in your mouth every time you eat a sugary snack. So when you snack, avoid soft, sweet, sticky foods such as cakes, candy and dried fruits. Instead, choose healthy foods such as nuts, raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese and sugarless gum or candy.

Some ways to help avoid cavities and plaque build-up

Everybody needs to sample a lemon tart or indulge in a piece of chocolate every now and then. If you do munch on these foods, it helps to eat the entire serving at one time, rather than make a sugary snack last all afternoon. And try to brush and floss your teeth afterwards, or at least drink a glass of water to help rinse sugar off your teeth. That way you can enjoy treats even more. Always keep your mouth moist by drinking lots of water. Saliva protects both hard and soft oral tissues. If you have a dry mouth, supplement your diet with sugarless candy or gum to stimulate saliva.

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