Snacks and food area big part of our lives. For many, food is much more than just something that gives us the nutrients and energy we need. It’s something many of us love. Whether it’s that delicious breakfast to kick-start your day, the mid-day energy boost or cooking up some inventive snacks for movie night, food can actually define our lives. For many, snacking is a past time. It’s something we do when we’re hungry, bored or just curious. “Snacking isn’t a bad thing,” says Dr. Maryam Adibfar, a leading Toronto dentist. However, when it comes to snacking and oral health, it largely depends on the foods you choose.”
Convenient snack options like candy, chocolate and cookies may seem easy and harmless, but they can wreak havoc on your teeth, gums and overall oral health. We’re often asked by our incredible patients what they can do to snack healthy and keep their teeth looking bright. It’s no easy task and it can be difficult with all those delicious options at your finger tips. Lets take a closer look at some common questions about snacks so you can enjoy the foods you love without jeopardizing your oral health.
Common Questions About Snacks and Oral Health
Why are sugary snacks bad?
Sugar is found in just about everything we eat. So why is it so bad for you? Not all sugars are created equal. The refined sugar that is commonly found in cakes, cookies, candies and other snacks can cause cavities, sensitivity and tooth decay. Not to mention they can impact your weight and overall health. If you’re reaching for a snack, it’s wise not to reach for the candy bar or candy that sticks to your teeth. Try homemade snacks like muffins or crackers. “It doesn’t mean that you can’t eat candy or indulge in your favourite chocolate bar, but we do recommend limiting the amount you eat as much as possible,” explains Dr. Adibfar. “If you do decide to indulge, try brushing and flossing soon after to reduce the impact it can have on your oral health.”
When I eat sugar, what does it do to my teeth?
Ever wonder what happens when you enjoy your favourite candies or treats? Our mouths are full of bacteria. Depending on your oral care habits, hygiene and diet, this bacteria can turn into plaque. When we consume high sugar foods, the plaque, which sticks to your teeth, absorbs the sugar and turns it into acid. That acid is powerful enough to wear down the enamel that protects to your teeth. This can lead to cavities, sensitivity and a host of other oral health problems. The simple thing to remember is this: the less sugar you consume, the less acid that bacteria can produce.
If I decide to snack on sugary foods, when should I do it?
Is it better to eat a bunch of your favourite candies at once or spread it over a few hours? The acid that can damage your teeth is produced every time you consume those sugary snacks. “For most people, it takes the body 20-30 minutes after the sugar is consumed to neutralize the acid so it can’t do any more harm,” says Dr. Adibfar. So lets say you have 10 candies for the day. It’s arguably better to eat them all at once rather than one every hour. “The more times you introduce sugar into your mouth, the more opportunities you’re giving that pesky bacteria to create the acid that harms your beautiful teeth,” explains Dr. Adibfar.
The rule of thumb to follow? If you eat sugar snacks, try brushing and flossing or at least rinsing with water as soon as possible after enjoying them.
How can I snack healthy?
Snacking can be addictive. And it can be tough to resist our favourite indulgences from time to time. But before you snack, ask yourself this question: What am I really eating? If it’s full of refined sugar, you might want to think again. It’s also important to think about the consistency of the snack. If it’s sticky, it will stick to your teeth for longer. This can increase the likelihood of oral health problems like cavities because the sugar and acid are in contact with you teeth for longer.
Snacking healthy doesn’t mean note enjoying food. “A lot of people think that just beacuse they’re making healthy snack choices, the food will be bland,” says Dr. Adibfar. “But there are numerous options out there that are healthy, filling and delicious.”
Some healthy snacks that could satisfy any temptation include: yogurt, crackers, cheese, fresh fruit, whole grain cereal, bread, veggies and dip, nuts and meat. The options are endless and you can get really creative. You might even like the healthier version more than the chocolate bar.
Think to Remember About Snacking Healthy
Making the healthy choice doesn’t need to be difficult or painful. Remember, you’ll teeth and gums will thank you for it. If you choose sugary snacks less often, select healthier alternatives between meals, brush and floss after snacking, and avoid sugar late at night, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier you.
Read the nutritional labels so you can educate yourself on which foods are healthier than others. You might be surprised that some of your favourite snacks and foods contain very high levels of sugars. Becoming more knowledable and aware can help you keep your teeth looking beautiful and healthy.
The Last Thing to Remember about Snacks
Partner with your trusted Toronto dentist. If you haven’t had a checkup or cleaning recently, contact us today to book one. It’s a great way to keep your teeth healthier for longer.