The Issue with Sugary Snacks
Snacking on sugary sweets may be good to your taste buds but as we know, they are not always healthy. The sugar in those snacks can start to affect teeth within minutes of consumption. Starchy foods can break down into sugars as soon as they enter the mouth. There are many different kinds of sugar that children and adults consume every day, but they all have the same effect on teeth. Although sugar is sometimes unavoidable, Dr. Sapna Amin can guide you through which snacks are better for you at your next check up.
How do sugars attack teeth?
Bacteria start forming in your mouth as soon as you finish brushing your teeth. As the bacteria grow in the mouth, it builds up a sticky film-like substance around the teeth called plaque. Plaque digests the sugar turning it into an acid. Whenever you already have plaque on your teeth and then choose to snack on something full of sugar, the bacteria have an easier time consuming the sugar and producing more acid. The acids that have formed are strong enough to dissolve away the hard outer layer (enamel) of the teeth. This begins the cycle of cavity formation. When you avoid sugary snacks the bacteria already living in the mouth will not have anything to consume, preventing acid from forming, thus reducing the risk for cavities.
How can I snack smart?
When deciding on when and what to snack on keep a few things in mind:
- The number of sugary foods consumed per day
- How long the sugary food stays in your mouth
- The texture of the sugary food (Chewy? Sticky?)
If you find yourself snacking after work, school, or near bedtime remember that certain snacks could break down into sugars. There are many options for snacks that Dr. Sapna Amin and her team can discuss with you to help keep your teeth and mouth happy and healthy.
Low-fat and low-carb options, like raw vegetables, fresh fruit, and nuts are smart choices for healthy snacks. Research has shown a link between low Vitamin C and gum disease. Snacking on fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, kiwis, bell peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli can lead to healthier gums. Research has also found a probiotic effect in green tea that has an effect on gums because of the antioxidants found in the tea, acting as an anti-inflammatory agent.
The next time you reach for a snack and are tempted by the sweet sugary ones, remember that it takes at least 20 minutes for the acid in the mouth to neutralize. The more often you eat sugary snacks throughout the day, the more often you feed the fuel for bacteria to start tooth decay. Dr. Sapna Amin enjoys having patients that are well updated and educated on which healthy snacks are suited for their teeth. She, and her team, would love to answer any questions you have during your annual check-up and cleaning.