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Snacking for Your Smile

It’s a Tuesday and you’re trying to get through another long day at work. To satisfy your boredom and/or tiredness, you whip out your pack of almonds and maybe a small bag of pretzels or an individual package of cookies. You decide to save your big bag of M&M’s for later in the afternoon.

You know that your snack choices aren’t the healthiest. However, it is all you have. Plus, eating fruits and vegetables don’t seem appetizing.

Your body needs food for fuel. When you’re hungry, you can’t focus on your work. Snacking, therefore, must not be that bad. Right?

There has been quite a bit of discussion about whether snacking throughout the day is good or detrimental to your health. In addition, the constant daily snacking is a subject of debate among dentists concerning oral health.

Despite the contention around snacking, the habit of snacking isn’t detrimental to your oral or overall health. Rather, it’s what you choose to eat for snacks that can either benefit or hurt your health.

In the above example, all the snack foods, except for the almonds, contain sugar.

Sugar and starches (simple carbohydrates) are two ingredients one must be sure to avoid or limit.

Bacteria inside the mouth love sugar and starches because they can be quickly broken down. When food particles that contain sugar and starches are broken down, there is a filmy byproduct that is left behind that covers the teeth and gums. It is this film that will eventually turn into plaque if not cleaned off or rinsed off.

If you need to snack during the day, practice “smart snacking.” This type of snacking incorporates choosing healthier snacks and keeping one’s mouth clean between snacks.

When it comes to snacks that are great for oral, and overall health, try the following:

  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Melons
  • Pineapple
  • Pears
  • Tangerines
  • Fruit and vegetable juices (unsweetened, of course)
  • Low or non-fat milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and cheese
  • Sliced meats
  • Pumpkin and sunflower seeds
  • Nuts

Besides snacks that are high in sugar and starches, snacks that are sticky, chewy and gooey should also be avoided as they can easily coat one’s teeth with germs and bacteria.

Other Smart Snacking Tips

  • Eat sweets right after a main meal
  • Avoid snacking too many times per day
  • Brush your teeth or rinse out your mouth after each snack
  • Use floss or a flosser after snacking
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat a variety of low or non-fat foods

While you may crave a piece of pizza or a packet of Skittles over some carrot or celery sticks, intentionally choosing healthy, low or non-sugar snacks will not only satisfy your hunger cravings, but you’ll also be boosting your oral and overall health.

Regular, adequate oral hygiene is also a great way you can improve your oral hygiene. Properly brushing your teeth, flossing and seeing one of the dentists at LeDowns Dentistry for regular oral examinations and cleaning in addition to a healthy, balanced diet will help ensure good oral health.

If it has been more than six months since your last dental checkup, contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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