Snacking May Be Harmful to Your Teeth
- Posted on: Aug 30 2018
It’s back to school time, and that has many people scrambling to find snacks that will suit their children. Snacking isn’t something that occurs only in lunchrooms or classrooms; a high percentage of the adult population would describe themselves as “snackers,” too. Grabbing a small bite provides a mood boost, and it might stave off hunger, but it can also degrade oral health if you’re not careful. Here, we point out a few ways that snacking might be harmful to your teeth.
Depending on what you instinctively reach for when the urge to snack strikes, it is possible that your teeth could be at risk of decay. Sugary foods and drinks like cookies with your coffee or that afternoon soda can leave sugar residue on your teeth. Here, it will feed the multitude of bacteria that live in your mouth. Sugar residue is a precursor to plaque, an invisible biofilm that harbors bacteria and increases the acidity in the mouth. The sugar itself is not acidic, but it invites bacteria to deposit acids on enamel that weaken the surface and cause cavities.
Acidity doesn’t just cause cavities. New research suggests that overwhelming acidity in the mouth can wash over entire tooth surfaces and sit on enamel for prolonged periods. This could be in the form of sugar residue but also may be straight acid. For example, fresh citrus fruits and pickles contain their own natural acids that can sit on teeth. Sour candies are ultra-acidic. Sugar-free sodas still contain acidic ingredients such as citric or malic acid, both of which can quickly degrade enamel.
Erosion is a prevalent and troubling problem among younger age groups due to the consumption of sports and energy drinks. When teeth are continually bathed in acidic ingredients, we may see changes in the shape of teeth and significant deterioration of brightness that may not be treatable with teeth whitening.
Protecting your smile from acidity is easy. One way is to choose crunchy, whole-food snacks like carrots, cucumbers, and apples. Another smile-saving tip is to rinse your mouth with water after any snack. It takes a few seconds to swish water through the mouth and across all teeth (remember to swish through front teeth, too) to reap long-lasting rewards.