Food + Teeth: snacking increases your risk of tooth decay

Feel like you’re eating healthy and brushing daily but still have issues with your teeth? The answer to the problem may lie in your eating habits between meals.

People who often graze on food throughout the day, even if they’re healthy snacks, are actually at a much higher risk of dental troubles such as tooth decay and cavities.

It’s funny to say, but your teeth need a rest between having food in them to be able to stay strong and healthy. Like a timeout during a sports game to re-energise!

To understand why this is the case, we’ll explain to you what happens in your mouth when you eat and how you can best eat to take care of your teeth.


Food + Teeth = Acid

Every single time you eat or drink, the environment in your mouth becomes acidic. This is a natural process that your body initiates in preparation to help you digest your food.

The human body is super efficient, so that every time you grab a bite to eat, whether it’s 1 cashew nut or an entire roast dinner, your mouth automatically creates acidity to accommodate the incoming food.

This acidity continues to linger long after you’ve finished chomping. No matter if you’ve eaten a tiny snack, or a huge 5-course dinner, your mouth environment remains acidic for a further 30 minutes after your last gulp. Afterwards, your mouth returns to its resting neutral PH again.

Increased mouth acidity also applies to drinks too, with the exception of water. Besides good old-fashioned plain H2O, beverages such as fruit juice, wine, beer, soft drinks and sports drinks also trigger your mouth environment to high acid levels.


Snacking Leads To Tooth Decay

It takes such a long time (30 minutes!) for our mouths to return to neutral PH after eating. If a person snacks every 20 minutes, their mouths remain in an elevated acidic state as it doesn’t get a long enough break to go back to normal.

Unfortunately for our teeth, tooth decay only happens in an acidic environment.

That’s why if our mouths constantly stay at elevated acid levels, it creates the perfect climate for nasties like tooth decay and cavities to form.

While acid is natural and great for our digestive process, too much of it can begin to cause lots of trouble for our poor teeth.

Have you had your teeth checked recently for cavities? Don’t leave it too late and book your appointment online with Whitehorse Dental now.


Who’s At Risk?

Why this is such a widespread problem is that a lot of people don’t realise that they are snacking or grazing throughout the day. Sometimes patients don’t view healthy foods like fruit and vegetables as snacks or don’t realise that 1 raisin is enough to start our digestive process. It’s also easy to forget that beverages like juice count too.

At Whitehorse Dental, we often meet:

  • Office workers who graze on nut or trail mix at their desk
  • Retirees who like to drink cups of tea or coffee with biscuits
  • Students who snack on pieces of fruit and veggies while studying
  • Sports players who regularly eat protein bars and drink energy drinks

Another risk category is also people who have had a significant change in their daily lifestyle who may not notice their altered eating habits or increased access to food.


Give Your Teeth A Break Between Meals

It can be really distressing when you’re doing all of the right things to take care of your teeth but you’re still faced with dental problems and cavities.

In our experience at Whitehorse Dental, simply giving your teeth a clear break between meals makes a huge difference to improving your overall dental health.

We find that the best balance between eating in moderation and taking care of your pearly is to eat 5 times a day.

If you enjoy snacking, that’s ok! We do too.

What we recommend is that you consume food in one sitting, rather than spacing the snack throughout the day. Instead of 1 cashew nut every 20 minutes, eat a handful in one sitting with a clear gap between the next time you eat any food.

With beverages, we think it’s best that you enjoy all of your delicious soft drinks, wines, and juices along with your meals. In between, it’s best for your teeth to keep hydrated throughout the day with plain water.

It may seem too simple to be true, but eating 5 meals a day will really do wonders for your dental health.

If you think you’re at risk of tooth decay, call us at Whitehorse Dental for a quick and painless teeth check today.


Image credit: Strawberry Teeth by AmandaBreann is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.