Do you reach for an afternoon snack? If you do, you're not alone as many people "graze" throughout the day, sometimes more than once. This snacking, however, can actually be detrimental to your oral health. Your West Milwaukee dentist explains why this is true and what you can do to protect your teeth from the dangers of grazing.
Why is Snacking so Dangerous to Your Oral Health?
When you eat a meal, it stimulates your saliva, which helps to neutralize the acids in your mouth that cause decay. You also tend to drink a beverage such as water with a meal, which also helps to wash away debris. This doesn't always happen with snacks, which means that food debris may hang around longer than usual in your mouth and on your teeth.
It also depends on the type of snacks you're choosing. Snacks high in carbohydrates or starches such as chips, crackers, or bread tend to stick to your teeth long afterward Carbohydrates also convert into sugar, which fuels that bacteria that produce the acids that cause tooth decay and cavities.
If you're not brushing after each of your snacks, you could be increasing your risk of developing tooth decay.
How You Can Protect Your Teeth
If you are going to snack, there are steps you can take to protect your teeth such as chewing sugarless gum afterward. Chewing sugarless gum for at least 20 minutes after snacking increases saliva and helps to neutralize the acids in your mouth.
Choose water to drink throughout the day. This not only keeps you hydrated, but it also helps to wash away food debris that remains from snacking.
Focus on healthy snacks. Fruits and vegetables also increase saliva and neutralize acids, so if you need that afternoon snack, reach for fruits or veggies instead of starchy snacks.
If you have more questions about your nutrition or the effects of snacking on your oral health, contact your team at WisconsinSmiles.