When it comes to snacking, we do not always make the right choices. In moments of weakness and hunger we often opt for a sugary snack. It may give us a bit of energy to get through our day, or just be a comfort during stress. Sugary snacks may taste great, but they are poor choices for our teeth and our bodies. Not only will the sugar cause tooth decay, but it will effect us negatively in other ways as well. Sugar causes you to “carb crash”, making you feel tired after the sugar high wears off, makes your body need to over produce insulin, dries your mouth out, and can allow us to gain significant amounts of weight if we are not careful. Smart choices are the key.
What Happens In Our Mouth When We Eat Sugar?
Our mouth is full of various bacteria. When sugary and starchy foods are introduced into the mouth the bacteria feed on the remains. The byproduct of this “feeding” is the production of acid. This acid over time will break down the enamel of our teeth leading to tooth decay. If you simply choose to eat healthy foods, then your chances of exposure to these acids is reduced.
The key is to make smart choices when snacking. There are many types of snacks out there and not all are bad for us. Certain sweets are worse than others. These include the gooey and chewy sugary snacks, and the sour gummy type candies. The reason these snacks are so much worse is that they stick to the surface of the teeth lasting in the mouth and on the enamel far longer than other types of sugary snacks, the sour gummies also contain high acid along with the sticky sugars..
The time of day is also important. Snacking late at night, or just before bedtime will allow the sugar to remain in your mouth overnight.As your mouth dries out, saliva production and bacteria clearance decrease dramatically. A dry mouth with sugar residue will put you at an increased risk for tooth decay.
Practice good oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing following snacking will go along way towards helping reduce our risk for tooth decay.
Best Snacks For Dental Health
-Fresh fruits and raw vegetables. The fruits can include oranges, melons, and pears. While the vegetables can include broccoli, celery, cucumbers, and carrots.
-Whole Grains. This can include whole wheat, rye, pumpernickel bagels, baked tortilla chips, wheat crackers with cheese, and even some unsweetened cereals.
-Milk and dairy products. This includes milk, cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese.
-Meat, nuts and seeds. This can include turkey, deli meats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and various unsweetened nuts.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, snacking is a part of who we are. Snacking in moderation along with good dental hygiene will keep our teeth healthy as well as keep our weight down so we can be healthier overall. A few key tips:
-Snack Wisely. Make the right choice more often than not. Get in the habit of choosing good snacks that are beneficial to our teeth and bodies. Avoiding sugar when possible. Drink lots of water during and after snacking.
-Time Your Snacking. Avoid sweets between meals. If you do choose to snack between meals get in the habit of brushing and flossing following the snack to keep the acids at bay.
-Variety. Mix up your snacking to ensure we get a good baalnce of nutrition into our bodies.
-Maintain Dental Hygiene. Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste after snacks and meals. If you cannot brush and floss right away, vigorously rinse your mouth with water a few times to try to wash away some of the sugar from our mouths as well as counteract the acids.
The bottom line is to choose your snacks wisely. Your health as well as your children’s depends upon it. Many snacks are better for children simply because they have the ability to promote growth and development. Be aware that many “healthy” foods if overindulged in, without maintaining good dental hygiene, can still cause tooth decay. Adults and children need to get in the habit of brushing, flossing, and rinsing following snacking and having a meal. Your teeth and body will thank you for it in the long run.