How to Snack Smart for Your Teeth

                If you’re like the majority of the population, you’ve been in a hurry before and on the lookout for a quick snack for yourself or your kiddos. Finding something nutritious AND quick can sometimes seem as hard as finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, am I right? It doesn’t have to be that way! With a little guidance and information about smart snacking, we think you’ll be able to start making healthier and happier snack and drink choices for your teeth, even when you’re in a hurry!

                The most important thing to know that most people are never taught is that the bacteria (plaque) in our mouth are on a 20 minute eating cycle. This means that when we eat foods that are sugary, or can later turn into sugar, (ahem, carbohydrates) the bacteria use this as their food source, gobble all that sugar up and produce acid. This acid in turn causes breakdown of our enamel, the hard outer surface of our teeth. What does this all mean? Frequent snacking on foods that are sugary is one of the main causes of tooth decay and the frequency that you’re eating sugary snacks matter most! Of course you and your kiddos will have a sweet treat every once in awhile and that’s OK. What is important to note is that if there is constant snacking happening on snacks that are sugary or will turn into sugar (gold fish crackers are a sneaky one), the teeth are getting “acid attacks” over and over instead of just once after only one sugary snack. For example, if you’re munching a few bites here and there throughout the day of a sugary snack versus having dessert in one sitting after dinner, you’re doing more harm to your teeth than the one larger dessert eaten in one sitting.

                So what can you or your kiddos eat that is healthy for your body and your teeth? Great question! Of course raw, crunchy vegetables are the number one choice for your body and for your teeth as a healthy snack. Cheese, nuts and meats are all great choices as well as they are low in carbohydrates and even if they are snacked on throughout the day, they aren’t likely to cause cavities. Fresh fruit is a good option but just remember: crunchier is better. An apple is a better choice for your teeth than a sticky banana that has a lot of sugar and gets stuck in and on your teeth (bananas are great for us so please still eat them, just not all day long!). Another important note that sometimes people don’t realize is that sugar is sugar! Natural or not, the bacteria in our mouth treat it all the same and gobble it on up. Also, the least processed the better as processed food often has added sugars and other things that are not healthy for our teeth and bodies. When it comes to choosing a sweet treat, ice cream and chocolate are better choices than a sticky/gummy candy like skittles or taffy. This is because the ice cream and chocolate melts away much more quickly than the gummy types of candy that get stuck in the teeth and stay on them for way too long!

                There are many healthy snack choices and remembering these few key points will help you to make better decisions regarding snacks for yourself and your child. If you are going to have a sweet treat, try to rinse and swish with water to help neutralize the saliva. Hopefully these tips and tricks help to guide you to smart snacking choices! We love to talk with our patients about all of these things so if you have any other questions, please, don't hesitate to ask us! 

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