Snacking helps children and adults sustain energy, avoid overeating during meals and maintain a well-balanced diet. However, those in-between meal munchies may take a toll on teeth.
Many popular snacks are packed with sweeteners that leave teeth coated in cavity-causing sugar. Even seemingly healthy options can contain high amounts of sugar. One serving of applesauce or raisins contains as much as six teaspoons of sugar – the same as an average candy bar.
According to the American Heart Association, women shouldn’t eat more than six teaspoons and men should have no more than nine teaspoons of sugar a day. But on average, Americans consume 22.2 teaspoons of sugar daily.
This is why it’s important to start snacking smarter.
- Pick low-sugar options like pretzels, cheese, crackers, pickles or nuts.
- Don’t graze. If you’re going to have a sugary snack, eating it in a short span limits the time your teeth are exposed. Continuous snacking subjects teeth to sugar for a much longer time period.
- After snacking, drink a glass of water to help wash away the sugar and neutralize the acid. Alternatively, chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva flow has the same effect.
- Don’t snack after you’ve brushed your teeth at night. Sugar that’s on your teeth when you go to bed will stay there until morning.
- Limit the consumption of sugary drinks like juice and soda. When you do drink them, use a straw, which limits the sugary beverages’ contact with teeth.
If not removed by brushing or other means, sugars in the mouth can contribute to tooth decay and cavities. So choose healthy snacks and don’t forget to adhere to a regular oral healthcare regime.