Eating on a few things here and there throughout the day, or a midnight snack every now and then might not seem like a bad thing, but it can actually increase your likelihood to develop tooth decay. It doesn’t really matter how “sugary” those snacks are, the fact that there are food particles to be broken down doesn’t make them any better. Anything from raisins, potato chips, fat free gummy bears or sports drinks has the potential to cause dental complications if you aren’t careful.
When you eat, those food particles are broken down and acidic byproducts form to aid in the digestive process. Some of these byproducts are seen on the teeth, as plaque. Constant plaque exposure to the teeth will cause enamel to demineralize, weaken, and eventually become decay. Tooth decay leads to the need for dental restorations such as fillings and crowns. The acid is active for about half an hour, so every time you eat another snack, your teeth are getting an additional half hour of acidic exposure. Instead, it’s best to eat the food all at once rather than to drag it out for hours.
If you do find yourself craving a snack, be sure to drink lots of water afterwards to help reduce acid levels in the mouth. Reach for healthy snacks like fresh fruits or vegetables, which clean teeth while you eat them. Cheese is another great snack that can neutralize the pH in your mouth and give you much needed calcium. Restrict snacks to just once or twice a day, rather than eating a little bit on them all day long, and fill up on well-balanced meals that will satisfy you rather than leave you wanting something 30 minutes later.
Posted on behalf of Linda King DDS
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