Snacking on sugary treats and foods adds unwanted calories to your diet which can negatively affect overall health. But have you considered the consequences of sugary foods on oral health? You could be risking the health of your smile as well as your body by choosing a sugary snack.
As you eat, bacteria present in your mouth multiply as they feed on their favorite diet: sugar. This process leads to the production of acid in your mouth, which if not cleared away immediately, can wear down the enamel of your teeth eventually causing tooth decay.
Factors that Increase Your Risk of Tooth Decay:
Frequency of Sugary and/or Acidic Snacks and Beverages
If you frequently eat sugar or acidic food and drinks, your teeth are at increased risk of decay. In fact, it’s not good for your teeth to allow any food to have prolonged contact with them. After eating and snacking, it’s important to brush and floss to remove food remnants and their acids from your mouth.
Drinking sugary/acidic beverages will also increase the risk of tooth decay. While it’s important to drink water for many health reasons, your healthy smile also depends on water to maintain a clean mouth. If you do partake in sodas, juices and/or sports drinks, it’s important to rinse your mouth or even better to brush your teeth. However; if you drink coffee, teas or other acidic beverages it is important to first rinse your mouth with water, and wait thirty minutes before brushing so that the acids are neutralized and not scrubbed immediately into the enamel.
Food Texture and Snacks
Remember to pay attention to the texture of foods you snack on. Some textures are ideal for bacteria to hide in and multiply. Sticky foods, for instance, are conducive to bacteria growth. Plus, gummy substances have a way of sticking to your teeth where they can impact tooth health. Obvious offenders like candies, taffies, cakes and cookies should be kept off limits except for the occasional treat. Not so obvious offenders like dried fruits such as raisins and cranberries can also stick to those grooves in teeth and feed the cavity-causing bacteria in our mouths.
Foods like chips, breads, pastas and crackers can also stick to the grooves in your teeth and since the first phase of digestion begins in your mouth, their breakdown and conversion to sugar occurs in your mouth. They are very similar to eating the sugars from candies and sweets. Limit these types of foods to meal times only.
Limit Fast-Food and Highly Processed Foods
Not only are they terrible for our cardiovascular health, but processed foods do not give our bodies that nutrients that we need to maintain dental health. Our teeth need vitamins and minerals to maintain strength, which is best found in foods in their most natural state.
Promote a Healthy Smile with These Tips
Reduce Sugar Consumption
By consuming less sugar, you’ll enhance your overall nutrition and better maintain your oral health. Less sugar means you can maintain a neutral pH balance in your mouth and body.
Brush and Floss
Dentists recommend that you brush after each meal–or at least twice a day. You should also floss every day to remove any food particles stuck between your teeth.
Choose Better Snacks
There are many snacks that are natural tooth scrubbers like carrots and apples that will actually help clean the grooves in your teeth. Snacks with high water content like fruits and vegetables are also great snacks. We encourage nuts and seeds as well as unsweetened dairy products like milk, yogurts and cheeses.
Your Smile and Overall Health
Dentists have long instructed patients that oral health is often connected to your overall health. Your mouth is merely the gatekeeper for all the food and drinks you put into your body. It’s important to make healthy food choices that are not only good for your teeth, but good for your body too.
To keep your smile at its best, keep these tips in mind and be sure to visit us on a regular basis so we can help support your oral health and promote healthy smiles for life.
- Ask your dentist to help you assess your diet. Have you scheduled your next appointment?
- Shop smart! Stock your pantry and fridge with healthy snacks. Save starchy or sugary treats for special times.
- Limit the number of snack times & choose nutritious snacks.
- Provide a balanced diet, and save starchy, carbohydrate foods, for meal times.