How snacking is bad for your teeth ?March 10, 2020 7:13 am
We’ve all had that feeling – maybe it’s 11 am, maybe its 4 pm – at any rate, your tummy is empty and the next meal seems a long way away. Where’s the harm in grabbing a quick bite to eat? Well, a snack might stop your stomach growling, but it isn’t such good news for your teeth. Depending on what you choose, eating outside of set mealtimes can really help cause damage to your teeth and gums.
- Why are snacks bad?
Think of your mouth like a set of balancing scales, with your body working to make sure the pH and bacteria levels are all kept in check. When you eat something, the bacteria in your mouth start to break down that food. They produce acid, which attacks teeth. At the same time, your body produces saliva in the mouth, which helps neutralize that acid again. When you snack, it means you’re giving bacteria a steady supply of food, and your production of saliva can’t keep up. As well as causing dental problems, snacking can also mess with your general health – snacks like processed nuts and baked goods are usually high in sugar, salt and calories. Over time this can lead to weight gain, and other related conditions like high blood pressure.
- What could happen to my teeth?
Acid attacks the outer layer of your tooth, called the enamel. This is a protective, hard coating that shields the soft dentine and nerve inside. Feeding bacteria create plaque, a sticky substance that adheres to teeth and allows even more bacteria to flourish. Over time, the acid that’s produced can wear away this enamel and create holes, known as cavities. To avoid further damage, you need to seek out tooth cavity treatment from a professional dentist. A filling is the only way to cure tooth decay.
- What should I do?
The ideal answer is – don’t snack! However, that’s not always possible. So it’s very important to pay attention to what you are eating. Avoid sugary or processed snacks, as these are the kind of foods that are most easily broken down by bacteria. Instead, opt for crunchy veggies or fruit, which can actually help clean your teeth. Or, choose some plain popcorn or a piece of bread. This might sound dull, but these kinds of carbohydrates take longer to break down – and therefore will cause less acid damage. Your dentist will tell you that crackers are actually one of the worst snacks you can choose for tooth damage, as the simple carbs are broken down into sugar incredibly quickly in the mouth!
- Maintaining good habits
The best way to avoid dental problems happening at all is to make sure you have a healthy and balanced diet, with three meals a day that can fill you up until the next meal time. Make sure you drink lots of water, as this helps replenish saliva supplies and also helps rinse food out of the mouth. Try to avoid sugar wherever possible – it’s the worst for teeth. Keep dessert for straight after a meal, when your mouth is already producing lots of saliva and is best-equipped to manage the extra dose of sugar. Finally, keep a regular and thorough dental hygiene that your dentist would be proud of. Brush twice a day with a toothpaste that contains fluoride, and floss regularly. Use an antibacterial mouthwash for extra cleaning power. Make sure you replace your toothbrush around every three months to be sure pesky bacteria aren’t making their way back into your mouth. This way, you can have a healthy set of teeth – and avoid needing any tooth cavity treatment at all!
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