Workdays can often feel extra-long, like the clock is ticking slower than normal. Do you reach for something sweet around 3:30 pm every day? You’re not alone. Enjoying an afternoon snack can provide a burst of energy and help you get through the rest of the day. However, your teeth may be suffering because of it. Keep reading to learn how snacking impacts oral health and what you can do to keep your teeth in great shape.
The Effects of Snacking on Your Teeth
Snacking can help fight hunger – and boredom – throughout the workday. However, every time you eat, the bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar and produce acids that attack tooth enamel. When acids weaken this protective layer, the risk of tooth decay greatly increases. Every donut, candy bar, or even sugary coffee in between meals produces another wave of harmful acid around your teeth.
Tips to Prevent Snacking
How can you stop snacking? Here are a few easy tips from a dentist in Blackwell:
You’ve probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In this case, it’s true! Eating a big breakfast that is high in protein will help keep your body fueled throughout the day. By keeping your appetite at bay, you will be less likely to go hunting for snacks in between meals.
Plan Your Meals
A little bit of meal prep can go a long way. Try to think about your weekly meals in advance and cook a bit extra so you can pack the leftovers for work. Eating full meals is better for your teeth than snacking because your body produces more saliva. Saliva washes away food particles and neutralizes acids in the mouth.
Hydrate with Water
Sometimes you may think you are hungry when your body is actually a bit dehydrated. Skip the sports drinks (which are often loaded with sugar) and keep a bottle of water near your workstation instead. Water will keep you hydrated and may help you feel less lethargic. If you have a reusable bottle that you can fill up from the tap, even better! In most communities, tap water contains fluoride, a mineral that strengthens teeth and reduces the risk of tooth decay.
Choose Healthy Snacks
If you cannot break the snacking habit completely, at least swap out sugary treats for healthier options. Here are some mouth-healthy snacks you can choose from:
- Carrots and celery – Raw, crunchy vegetables like carrots and celery help increase saliva production. They are also high in fiber and a great source of vitamin A, which can boost the health of your gums.
- Plain Yogurt – Dairy contains phosphorous and calcium, which help build strong bones and fortify teeth.
- Trail mix – Nuts and seeds are a good source of protein and low in sugar. They also contain minerals such as potassium, calcium, and zinc, which contribute to healthy teeth and gums. Just be sure to check the nutrition facts on your favorite bag of trail mix. Many commercial trail mixes include pieces of chocolate and are high in sugar.
While snacking can be a small daily dose of joy, cavities are most certainly not. Following the recommendations above and regularly visiting a dentist in Blackwell can help you avoid tooth decay and other oral health trouble.
About the Author
Dr. Aaron Neale is dedicated to providing comprehensive oral care to the Blackwell community. The proud University of Oklahoma graduate welcomes patients of all ages for preventive checkups and cleanings. For more tips to maintain a healthy smile, visit the Blackwell Dentistry website or call (580) 262-8420.