How Does Snacking Affect Dental Health?

Q: My dentist mentioned that my snacking throughout the day at work isn’t good for my teeth. What, specifically, should I be looking out for? 

A: Do you sip soft drinks or other sugary drinks all day long at your desk? Do you use breath mints or eat candy often? Instead of meals, do you tend to snack throughout most of the day? Do you often grab a sports or energy drink when you’re tired? Any of these habits can lead to tooth decay. 

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth. Plaque bacteria use sugar to make acid that attacks enamel, the hard surface of the tooth. The acid can attack tooth enamel for up to 20 minutes after you consume sugary foods or drinks. When you do this on and off all day long, these repeated attacks on the enamel can cause tooth decay. 

What to do to turn this around? Read labels to look for sugar. Choose fresh fruit, such as an apple, for snacks. Drink plenty of water instead of sugary drinks. Chew sugarless gum. And brush your teeth regularly.