Snacking and sipping are starting to cause a stir in dentistry. Because more and more people are in front of a computer all day, they tend to sip on a beverage for a longer period of time than someone who is drinking something to satisfy a thirst. And, there is that pesky office candy bowl in the next cubicle or the homemade goodies someone left in the break room that everyone likes to grab from here and there throughout the day. Because of these increased behaviors, there seems to be a link between them and tooth decay and we want to help you and give you some tricks to stop bad snacking and drinking.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), Americans are consuming foods and drinks high in sugar and starches more often and in larger amounts than ever before. Continually eating sugary foods throughout the day or sipping on sugary drinks have a hazardous effect on teeth. After eating or drinking, any sugar left on teeth creates a breeding ground for bacteria. When bacteria feeds on sugar, acid is produced which can then cause tooth enamel to be eaten away paving the way for a cavity. Here are 7 tricks to help you day to day!
1. Snack on nuts or cheese. These tend to counteract acid production and who doesn’t love cheese!?
2. Gravitate to the veggie tray. They are low in carbohydrates, which means they are low in sugars. Some good options include lettuce, cucumbers, onions, broccoli, radish, carrots, peas, celery, kale and peppers. Combining these vegetables with seeds, chickpeas, tomatoes, fresh herbs and olive oil creates a healthy meal rich in vitamins and nutrients for alkaline dieters.
3. Stick to firm and alkaline fruits. If you eat fruit, try to stay away from acidic fruit and lean more towards firm fruits, which have a high water content. include watermelon, cantaloupe, apples, berries, grapefruit, avocado, lemon and lime. Some of these fruits may seem acidic because of their sour taste, but once they are digested, they have an alkalizing effect.
4. Rinse with water. Saliva matters too and rinsing with water after snacking will increase saliva flow, which has natural antibacterial properties. If you can control your snacking, but absolutely can’t make it through the day without sweets, have it with a meal when more saliva is being produced to digest food and neutralize acid. Research has shown that people who snacked during the day had more cavities than those who ate the same amount of sugary snacks with meals. Chewing sugarless gum has the same effect!
5. Sip Fast! If you’re drinking a sugary drink, do not nurse it. Drink it down and then drink water, chew sugarless gum or better yet, brush. The sooner the sugar comes off your teeth, the less likelihood for cavities. When you think of sugary drinks, obviously soda comes to mind, but don’t forget those lattes and cappuccinos that everyone is drinking these days. The milk and other contents in those drinks have sugar to activate bacteria.
No one wants to put a damper on your sweet tooth or latte addiction. We all need some perks throughout our day, but remember that your teeth are the first victims of anything that is poor in nutrition.
As a rule of thumb always remember to rinse with water, chew sugarless gum, floss, brush, and see your dentist and hygienist regularly to catch problems early or better yet, to prevent them!