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How Your Oral Health is Affected by Snacking

Ripe banana isolated on white backgroundThe below article offers tips to help combat what happens to your teeth when food is left on them for a period of time. Thanks for visiting Castle Rock Endodontics

How your oral health changes everything you thought you knew about snacking

Everyone knows that snacking on sugary and processed foods is bad for your waistline. But what about the effects of an unhealthy diet on your oral health? Would you believe me if I told you that in this scenario, a banana did more harm to your teeth than that big slice of chocolate cake?

When you eat, the bacteria that naturally live in your mouth feed off of dietary sugars and produce the acid that, if not cleared away, erodes dental enamel. This demineralization process can lead to cavities and the bacteria can cause infection. So, why did your banana cause more harm than the chocolate cake? The answer lies in the texture. Soft and sticky foods provide the perfect environment for bacteria to adhere to and accumulate over time.

Snacking contributes to 2 major factors that increase the risk of dental caries development:

  1. Frequency of consumption
  2. Amount of time that food is left in contact with teeth

Snacking between meals leaves your teeth vulnerable to decay as you are constantly feeding these bacteria and keeping the environment inside of your mouth at an acidic pH. You ate the banana, and then drank coffee with milk and sugar an hour later. You ate lunch, had the chips, and before you realized, it was dinnertime. Food was left in contact with your teeth all day, forcing constant acidity and preventing neutralization. This pattern is recognized as Stephan’s Curve, pictured below.

Maria’s Top 5 Snacking Tips:

  1. Avoid added sugar and acidic beverages to keep a neutral pH.
  2. Brush at least twice a day, or after every meal, and floss before bed.
  3. Use fluoridated toothpaste and drink fluoridated tap water to encourage remineralization.
  4. Smart snacking foods include almonds, cheese, and fruits and vegetables with high water and fiber content.
  5. Crunchy carrots and apples are especially beneficial as they stimulate the production of saliva, which is a powerful remineralizing agent.

So make it your goal every morning to starve those bacteria by waking up early enough to enjoy a healthy breakfast and to brush your teeth before you go.

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