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How Does Snacking Affect Your Smile?

In the fight against tooth decay, you must be mindful not only in what you do to your mouth, but also what foods you put into your mouth. It’s tempting to assume that because food moves quickly past your teeth and gums, its role in your oral health is somehow less important. Not so, says Dr. Todd Pizzi at Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury. Dr. Pizzi, who offers fillings and dental crowns in Shrewsbury, MA, explains how your diet affects your mouth.

Food Takes Action Immediately

Enzymes in your saliva begin breaking down carbohydrates into sugar, which explains why starchy foods like breads and potatoes can be just as harmful to your teeth as sugary substances like candy and cookies. When you take a sip or bite, bacteria living in your mouth waste no time in consuming sugar and producing acid in the process. These acids weaken the protective enamel covering your teeth, promoting tooth decay and preventing your teeth from absorbing much-needed minerals.

…Then It Lingers in Your Mouth

Unless leftover bits of food are removed by brushing, rinsing, or flossing, bacteria will continue to produce acid. Some foods, such as gummy candy, dried fruit, and chewy sweets cling stubbornly to your teeth, insinuating their way between teeth and in various crevices within your mouth. Your molars, which have a ridged chewing surface, are notorious for trapping food and sugary substances. Acids produced by bacteria remain in contact with your teeth long after you’ve eaten the last bite. This is a common problem among people who tend to snack throughout the day, or those who eat several small meals daily.

You Can Minimize Damage to Teeth

Fortunately, not all foods have such harmful effects on your teeth. For example, eating or drinking dairy products stimulates your salivary glands and neutralizes acid lingering in your mouth. After consuming an acidic meal, try drinking a glass of milk or nibbling a small piece of cheese. Dr. Pizzi also recommends chewing sugar-free gum. Look for gum that contains the sweetener Xylitol, which has been proven to ward off acid and bacteria. Sugar-free lozenges work well, too. A few tips to consider:

  • Nuts, meats, and chicken neutralize acid while fortifying teeth with phosphorus and calcium.
  • Opt for firm fruits and vegetables, such as pears, apples, and carrots. Unlike juicier fruits, these have a higher water content that has the effect of diluting sugar.
  • Restrict consumption of sodas, sports drinks, and energy drinks. All contain loads of sugar and are extremely acidic.If you do drink these beverages, use a straw.

Has your diet damaged your teeth? To learn more about restorative dental treatments, or to schedule an appointment with your Shrewsbury, MA dentist, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in and around Boylston, Hopkinton, Millbury, and North and South Grafton.