Remember when you were a kid and snacks made the world go ‘round? Moms, y’all can definitely vouch for how quickly a fun outing becomes a disaster when you forgot the snacks at home, right? I mean, snacking is a way of life for children; they basically eat all day long. Unfortunately, many of us have maintained our childhood snacking habits, and it’s taking a toll on our teeth. How does that work? Let’s talk about it.
Every time you eat or drink anything (besides water or perhaps black coffee), you change the chemical and bacteria balances that are in your mouth. We know that’s a little weird to think about, but from a scientific standpoint, eating changes the ph balance in your mouth. That means when you eat or drink the teeth-weakening acids start to attack your teeth. Sugary snacks bring on the worst attacks, but all eating and drinking affects your teeth to some extent. What this means is that the more times you snack during the day, the more you are exposing your teeth to damage.
There’s an unsung hero in this battle, though: your saliva. Saliva is full of acid-neutralizers and helps wash food away from your teeth and out of your mouth and restores the ph balance in your mouth to be safe for your teeth. Your mouth produces more saliva during meal times, so if you’re going to eat that to-die-for dessert, eat it at the end of a meal, instead of as a snack.
Food is meant to be enjoyed, though, and we don’t want you to feel stressed about eating. We tried to come up with some simple recommendations for you, so that you can take care of your teeth AND enjoy your food:
- We recommend eating three meals a day and avoiding sugary drinks and snacks in between meals.
- If you need to eat something in between meals, we recommend choosing foods like cheese, veggies, or nuts.
- We recommend that when you snack, you go ahead and eat the whole snack at once instead of nibbling on it over the course of an hour or two.
- We recommend brushing your teeth after eating sugary foods whenever you are able to do so.
When you finish a drink or snack, follow it up with some water, to wash some of the sugars away.
(Having braces makes everything a little more complicated, which is why brushing your teeth after you eat or snack is extra important while you have braces.)