Everyone knows that sugary foods and drinks, such as lollies, chocolates and fizzy drinks are bad for teeth, but did you know it’s not just a matter of what you snack on, but how often that leads to tooth decay?
Sugary foods and drinks, when consumed regularly, can lead to tooth decay. The bacteria in our mouths converts sugar into acid, and when this acid remains on the teeth for an extended period of time the teeth will weaken and decay will develop. Part of the problem is the amount of sugar in the food and drink we consume; the other problem is how often this food is being consumed.
Every time we eat, our teeth are exposed to sugars and it takes at least 30 minutes after eating for our saliva to neutralise the acids created by food and drink. This means every time you snack or sip, your teeth are exposed to acids for at least 30 minutes every time.
What can you do to minimise the effects of these ‘acid attacks’?
There are a number of things you can do to help minimise the effect of these acid attacks each day including:
- Avoid snacking on foods that are sticky, gummy, chewy or full of sugar. Foods that are chewy and gummy will stick to your teeth and your saliva will take far longer to neutralise the acids created by these foods.
- Avoid snacking regularly. Try to stick to regular meal times with at least two hours between meals and snacks. Make sure you are including lots of wholegrains and vegetables at main meals times to help you feel fuller for longer, as to avoid frequent snacking.
- Avoid sipping on sugary drinks. If you are going to have a drink other than water or plain milk during the day try to consume the drink in one sitting with a meal. Continuously sipping a drink like fruit juice, cordial, soft drinks and even sparkling waters throughout the day leads to acid exposure during each sip.
- Drink tap water during and after each meal to help wash away any lingering food and rebalance your saliva ph levels. Tap water is recommended over bottled water as it contains fluoride that helps prevent tooth decay.
- Be smart with your snacks. Veggies, cheeses, yogurt, nuts and lean meats are great tooth friendly snack options.
A healthy balanced diet and sensible eating habits, teamed with good oral hygiene and regular preventative dental care will keep your teeth and gums healthy through all stages of life.