Whether it’s a bag of potato chips, a granola bar, or a handful of chocolate candies, snacking throughout the day isn’t as harmless as you might think. Eating starchy and sugary foods in great quantities is already bad for your teeth and gums, but if you add smaller portions (snacks) in between meals, you’re wreaking more havoc on your smile than you can imagine. In this article, we’ll look at the damaging effects of this often unhealthy habit and discuss what you can do to make positive changes that won’t negatively impact your smile.
What is Snacking a Bad Thing?
Your diet and oral health are closely connected believe it or not. Much like your mouth and body positively or negatively affect each other, so can the foods and beverages you consume. Your waistline isn’t the only thing to be concerned about when it comes to snacking. You should also consider how it impacts your teeth and gums.
What you may not realize is that depending on what you eat and drink, there’s a good chance you will increase your risk for cavities because of the change in acidity levels inside your mouth. No matter what you eat, bacteria accumulate and produce harmful acids that can eat away at your tooth enamel. The more this happens (the more frequently you snack), the greater your risk for serious tooth decay.
Also, if sugary or starchy foods and beverages are your guilty pleasure, prepare to clean your teeth more often. If contents are left inside your mouth for prolonged periods, they can begin to break down tooth enamel. Bacteria and plaque buildup can also attack your soft oral tissues, resulting in the early stages of gum disease.
What to Consider When Reaching for a Snack
When you hear the word “snack,” you are probably like most people and automatically envision some of the unhealthiest foods possible (i.e., chips, cookies, crackers, candy, soda). Very seldom is a majority of individuals turning to fruits, vegetables, and dairy.
However, the options you choose can make a big difference in the health of your smile. Although it is true that all foods contain some level of sugar, you’ll need to make sure you’re paying close attention to labels to determine what is “healthy” and what is not.
When tempted to fill your belly with something that will help you push through that 3:30 wall you just hit, grab for nutrient-rich foods such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, yogurt, or cheese. Not only are they filled with essential vitamins and minerals, but they’re also great for removing food particles from your teeth and promoting better oral health.
Don’t let snacking lead your teeth and gums down the wrong path. Make positive, healthy choices so you can continue to enjoy a healthier, more beautiful smile.
About the Author
Dr. Greg Riley completed his Master of Science degree at the University of Miami and earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree at the Temple University School of Dentistry. For 20 years, he has been caring for his patient’s smiles, strongly encouraging preventive dental care. Helping patients better understand how the foods they eat can impact their smiles, he and his team at Juno Beach Smiles can provide helpful tips to make avoiding cavities a breeze. Visit our website or call (561) 622-7243 to learn more.