These days, there’s a lot of information out there about dietary choices and how they affect your overall health. But one consequence of your diet that doesn’t get as much attention is its impact on your oral health. In particular, snacking can really make a big difference in how many cavities you get and ultimately how much dental work you need from a dentist in San Marcos. Keep reading below to learn how to snack the smart way!
How Does Your Diet Affect Your Oral Health?
Standard modern diets are heavy on carbohydrates and sugar. When these foods are eaten too much or too often, your risk of getting cavities increases quite a bit.
This occurs because the cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth prefer eating sugars and carbohydrates more than any other type of food. Every time you have a bite or sip of something with sugar, these bacteria produce acid that eats away at your enamel. By minimizing sugars and carbohydrates, you greatly reduce the amount of acids in your mouth that lead to cavities.
Good Snacking Strategies For Fewer Cavities
Over the last several decades, sugar has been added to everything – even foods that you think are healthy like cereals and yogurt. With the following strategies, you’ll know how to choose foods that don’t put your teeth at risk:
- Read labels – It can be really surprising when you start reading labels for sugar content (especially “added sugars.”) For example, some types of yogurt have as much sugar as soda! Also, try to primarily focus on whole foods instead of packaged foods.
- Choose low or no-sugar snacks – Read through the list of ideas below to get you started with which foods to choose and which foods to minimize.
- Remember that timing matters – While the total amount of sugar is certainly important, the frequency with which you consume it matters just as much. Ideally, anything sweet should be eaten with a meal instead of as a snack. Sipping on sweet beverages throughout the day can be particularly harmful.
Healthy Snack Ideas
Here are some great ideas for healthy snacks:
- Deviled eggs or egg salad
- Celery or other veggies with guacamole, hummus or nut butter
- Lunch meat roll-ups with mustard or mayonnaise
- Nuts and seeds
- Plain, low or no-sugar yogurt (with optional fresh fruit)
- Milk or water (instead of juice or soda)
Although you don’t have to give up the following foods and beverages entirely, try to only have them as an occasional treat:
- Soda (including diet soda because it still contains acids that cause cavities)
- Sweetened coffee and tea
- Pastries, cakes, cookies, sugary cereals, and bagels
- Candy – especially anything sticky such as caramel or gummy bears
- Energy and sports drinks
Along with better snacking choices, scheduling regular checkups and maintaining good oral hygiene habits at home will go a long way towards keeping you out of the dental chair. With these simple strategies, you’ll have a great chance of having a healthy smile for life.
About the Author
Dr. Robert Donnelly has been a dentist in San Marcos for many years and has a long track record of academic and professional excellence. He focuses on prevention first, treatment second and always helps patients understand the impact of their diet. If you’d like to know more about the importance of healthy snacking or have any other questions, he can be reached via his website.