Snacking Healthy

Bacteria are present in the mouth at all times. These bacteria can form a yellowish film on the teeth called plaque. It sticks to the teeth and discolors them. Daily brushing can limit the amount of plaque that settles on the teeth. Some plaques can move below the gum line leading to gingivitis - inflammation of the gums.

Do you snack? Many people do. Sugary snacks are usually our first choice. The sugars in these snacks can affect the health of your teeth.

When the sugars break down, they can attract the bacteria in the plaque and form acids. It is the acid that breaks down the hard enamel. And, once the enamel is gone, it doesn’t come back. Loss of enamel can lead to sensitive teeth, being affected by heat and cold touching them. It can also eventually result in tooth loss.

How to Snack Smarter

We all love the taste of sweets but they aren’t so good to our teeth. To protect the teeth and keep them strong, here are some tips to snack smarter.

* Choose sugar wisely – While it is okay to snack several times a day, choosing a sugary snack each time can hurt the teeth. Try limiting sugar for after dinner.

* Limit the fat – Too much fat in your snacks is not good for your body but also not good for your teeth.

* Brush your teeth – After a sugary snack, the acids that form can stay active for almost half an hour after you are finished eating. That is 20 minutes that your teeth are under attack. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste can stop the activity of the acid right away. Most of us brush our teeth in the morning. Brush at least twice a day and after sugary snacks.

* Choose a different category of snacks – If you’ve ever eaten sugar then you know that it starts a vicious cycle. You will want more sugar after the blood sugar spike wears off. High fiber snacks are more filling and also healthier for the body.

Here are some examples of healthier snacks:

# Fruit – Apples, berries, oranges, pineapples, tomatoes
# Raw vegetables – Celery, carrots, broccoli, cucumbers
# Grains – Popcorn, bagels, oats
# Dairy – Cheeses, low-fat milk
# Nuts and seeds