It’s still a few hours until dinner and your stomach is growling. You’re thinking of reaching for a snack, but then you remember you just brushed your teeth after lunch. Have you ever wondered how snacking affects oral health? Is it bad for your teeth? It can be, but it doesn’t have to affect your oral health negatively. There are some things you can do to minimize the negative impact snacking could have on your teeth.
Is Snacking Bad for My Teeth?
Snacking can be bad for your teeth if you might have to wait a long time before you can brush your teeth again. It may also affect your teeth in a negative way if you eat or drink something sugary or that tends to stick to your teeth or get caught between them. Sugar and food debris, if not cleaned away, can combine with the saliva in your mouth to create an acidic environment that promotes tooth decay.
How snacking affects oral health is an important thing to consider, because it can have a big impact over the long term, but does that mean you should never snack?
Should You Avoid Snacking?
Snacking between meals is sometimes necessary if you had to grab a quick lunch without enough nutrients or if you have issues with your blood sugar dropping low that can be caused by conditions such as diabetes or hypoglycemia. Your doctor may even recommend that you snack between meals if you have one of these health conditions.
If you find snacking is necessary, there are some things you can do that can help protect your teeth.
What Can You Do to Minimize the Risk?
Choosing a snack of fresh fruit or veggies is a wonderful option. Knowing snacking affects oral health can actually help you find positive ways to affect your oral health if you choose options that nourish your body, especially your bones and teeth!
Leafy green vegetables contain a lot of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium, calcium and beta carotene that help to support good dental health. Fibrous fruits and veggies like carrots and apples can also help to clean your teeth between brushings and stimulate the circulation in your gums.
Plain yogurt and popcorn are also good options for snacking.
Chewing gum after snacking can also help to clean your teeth some and stimulate the circulation in your gums. Just make sure to choose a sugar free option. Gum containing xylitol as a sweetener has also been shown to reduce the amount of bacteria and its ability to stick to your teeth.
Clean Your Teeth as Soon as Possible
Eating healthy snacks and chewing gum with xylitol is not a substitute for brushing or flossing, so it’s still important to properly clean your teeth as soon as possible.
Planning ahead by carrying a toothbrush, floss or mouthwash in your purse or briefcase can also help if you are able to find an opportunity to brush your teeth or use a quick swish of mouthwash after snacking. Convenient travel sizes of toothbrushes and mouthwashes are available at many drug stores. If none of these options are available, it may help to simply rinse your mouth with water after snacking to help wash away excess food particles and sugars.
Ask Your Dentist
Your dentist may also be able to suggest healthy snacking options and strategies to help protect your teeth. Ask your dentist at your next exam or cleaning for more information about how snacking affects oral health and what you can do to help support your overall oral health in your daily routine.
Call our McKinney, Rowlett, Sherman, Greenville, Rio Bravo or Montgomery dental offices to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.