One of the best things you can do to maintain your oral health is to eat healthy. Healthy foods help keep your teeth clean and provide some of the minerals that you need to keep your teeth strong. There are some foods that are better for meal time and others that are better for snack time. Make sure you choose your snack time foods well, to promote good oral health.
Bad Snack Foods
Grabbing a piece of fruit seems like a great quick snack, but monitor which fruits you grab. Oranges and other citrus fruits can harm your teeth. Not only do they contain sugar, they are also acidic. It is best to eat these fruits as part of a meal to minimize the acidity.
Some other fruits you may want to stay away from at snack time are blueberries and cranberries. They aren’t very acidic, but they will stain your teeth and the longer you let the stain sit on your teeth, the harder it is to get it out. Try drinking water or milk with the blueberries as you eat them to rinse the blue color off your teeth.
Other types of food to avoid are sticky foods, such as raisins and other dried fruit and candy, and carb rich foods, such as potato chips and Cheerios. These can easily get stuck in the pits and grooves of your teeth and remain in your mouth for a period of time. This means that the sugars in these foods are available to the bacteria in your mouth long after you have finished eating. These are best eaten with a meal as the saliva that is produced when you eat a meal will help break down these sticky foods. Also, brush your teeth about 15 minutes after eating these foods to make sure you get them out of the crevices in your teeth.
Although sandwiches aren’t really a quick snack, they are often a “go to” lunch food, or a quick on-the-go alternative to a sit down lunch. Be careful with sandwiches as the bread is a sticky food and is also full of sugar. If you do grab a sandwich, grab something crunchy, like celery or carrots. These will help clean your teeth afterwards – or, even better; bring your toothbrush with you!
Lastly, if you get thirsty throughout the day don’t reach for the juice or soda. Juice and soda contain lots of sugars that stay on your teeth long after you have finished drinking them. As these don’t require chewing, you won’t produce extra saliva. The extra saliva helps return the pH of your mouth to normal and also helps wash away the sugar. If you really need the sweet kick, use a straw, drink water afterwards, and finish your drink quickly (don’t sip on it for hours).
Good Snack Foods
Sometimes you just can’t help it and you get hungry between meals. What should you snack on in this case? Cheeses and nuts are good snack foods. They help stimulate saliva and can also help reduce the pH of your mouth. They also contain phosphorous along with calcium, which are the two minerals most needed to rebuild your tooth enamel.
Crunchy raw fruits and veggies are also good. These fruits and veggies may contain sugar, but they also contain lots of water. Carrots and celery are best, as they are very crunchy and can help massage the gums and clear away some plaque.
If you just want to hold off until meal time, grab a piece of xylitol gum. Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that helps prevent decay. By chewing xylitol gum instead of or after a snack, you are helping to reduce the pH in your mouth as well as killing the decay causing bacteria in your mouth.
When you do get thirsty, grab a glass of milk or a bottle of water. Milk is rich in calcium, the mineral that is essential in rebuilding your enamel. Water helps to wash away trapped food particles, keep your gums (and body) hydrated and cleans your mouth so that your saliva can work to remineralize your teeth.
Eating healthy is important at any age. Starting healthy eating habits early can help your children learn how to snack properly. The same is true for healthy oral habits. Teach your children how to snack healthy and take care of their teeth at the same time. At our Evanston dental office, we know that getting through the day without snacking can sometimes be difficult. Make sure you grab a tooth friendly snack so you can keep your smile beautiful!