You enjoy a mid-morning pastry occasionally and maybe some pretzels in the afternoon here and there. That can't be too detrimental to your oral health, right? The truth is, we live in a culture known for "grazing," or snacking throughout the day, and it is having an impact on our oral health – even when it's done in moderation. Your Barrie, ON dentist explains.
How is Snacking Dangerous for Your Teeth?
When you partake of three meals each day it starts a process in your mouth that aids in digestion and managing your food. Your chewing stimulates saliva production, which helps to break down your foods for digestion and also washes away the remaining food debris and particles so they don't linger in your mouth. You also tend to drink beverages during a meal, often this includes water, which also helps to hydrate your mouth and wash away excess debris.
When you snack throughout the day, you may not be drinking the water needed for healthy digestion. Your choice of snack is also critical because sweet treats or other snacks loaded with sugar can contribute to tooth decay and cavities since sugar is the fuel for the bacteria that produce the acids that destroy your tooth enamel.
You may decide that eating bread, chips, or pretzels seems healthier than eating sweet treats; however, carbohydrates turn into sugar during the digestion process, which means you are back to the risk of developing cavities. As a double whammy, these snacks are also starchy which causes them to stick to your teeth longer than they should, giving them ample opportunity to cause damage to your teeth.
What Can I Do to Protect My Oral Health?
If you truly need to reach for that afternoon snack, be thoughtful about your choices. Fruits and vegetables actually neutralize the acids in your mouth that cause decay. They also increase saliva flow. So think about snacking on a carrot stick or celery.
Remember to drink water throughout the day to keep your mouth hydrated and wash away the debris left from snacking. Chewing sugarless gum after snacking will also increase your saliva flow.
If you have questions about your nutrition or oral health, contact your team at Park Place Dental for more information.