Cavities and tooth decays are among the most common dental problems, especially in teenagers, children, and older adults who don’t maintain good oral hygiene. At Iqaluit Dental Clinic, we suggest you be more mindful of your eating habits and snack less frequently to prevent dental tooth decay. It is also essential to consume teeth-friendly food to keep them healthy and strong and avoid consuming food that can damage your teeth.
Most people reach for their favourite snacks such as crunchy, starchy, or sugary food products when they feel hunger pangs but it’s not mealtime yet. Not to mention, Netflix and chill without a few savoury snack items make the experience incomplete and unfulfilling. Unfortunately, when you snack frequently, you don’t just feed yourself but also the numerous bacteria and germs residing in your mouth.
When you eat certain types of food and food products such as cookies, cakes, dried fruit, and more that cling to your teeth for a long time, it becomes food for the bad bacteria in your mouth. Over time, bacteria convert the stuck food particles inside your mouth into plaque, which is a thin, clear, sticky film that coats your teeth. Even with regular brushing, plaque can harden above your gum line or on your teeth into tartar (calculus) which makes it even more difficult to remove.
Plaque contains acid which erodes the mineral in the hard, outer layer of your teeth which is known as the enamel. This leads to the formation of tiny holes or openings in the enamel which forms the first stage of cavities. Over time, the bacteria can reach the next layer of your teeth known as dentin which is softer and less resistant to acid than the enamel. This causes tooth sensitivity and if the problem is left untreated, the bacteria and acid react to the inner tooth material known as pulp that contains the blood vessels and the nerves. Ultimately, it leads to severe tooth pain and discomfort due to tooth damage.
Here are a few tips you can follow to prevent tooth decay while snacking:
1. Avoid eating unhealthy food and food products – Sticky and sweet treats that contain sugar are incredibly harmful to the health of your teeth since they are perfect for cavity-causing bacteria and germs. When consuming any type of food product, ensure you read the label thoroughly to confirm whether they contain sugars to be sure. These include sticky candies and sweets such as lollipops, cough drops, mints, and more that have refined sugar.
It is also important to limit the consumption of food and products that are heavy on carbs or starches and sticky or chewy since they stick to your mouth as well. These include pastries, cookies, cake, soft bread, granola bars, peanut butter, oatmeal, dried fruit, dry cereal, potato chips, and more. These are loaded with sugars and easily stick to your teeth since they are resistant to being washed away by saliva.
Finally, limit the consumption of carbonated and sugary soft drinks since these also include a lot of added sugar and also contain phosphoric and citric acids that damage the tooth enamel. These include soda, energy or sports drinks, fruit juice, and more.
2. Avoid frequent snacking and sipping – It is recommended that you limit your snacks to 1-2 times a day to prevent constant acid bath on your teeth. When you snack more frequently, you limit the time saliva has to wash away the food particles inside your mouth. As a result, it enables the bacteria inside the mouth to produce more acid and more time to damage your teeth since they have more fuel to use.
It is also a good idea to consume any sugar treat or starchy food during mealtime since it can be washed away more easily due to the production of more saliva during that period.
3. Brush your teeth after snacking – It is recommended that you brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day — after waking up and before bedtime. However, ideally, you would want to brush your teeth after every round of eating and drinking. This means you must brush your teeth not only after having meals but also after having snacks. This practice would help to remove any food particles stuck to your teeth and clean them more thoroughly and prevent the risk of cavities.
4. Consume healthy food as snacks – Crunchy, fibre-rich fruits and vegetables such as apples, celery, carrots, cucumbers, melons, and pears, make excellent snacks since they help to stimulate the production of saliva due to their high fibre and water content. However, avoid consuming too many raisins and bananas since they are high in natural sugars.
Saliva washes away any food particles, sugar, and acids on the surface of teeth before they have a chance to cause damage to the teeth. Plus, it restores the minerals of the teeth since they contain a trace amount of phosphate and calcium.
Low-fat cheese such as cheddar, Monterey jack, and Swiss, along with yoghurt, milk, and other dairy products are also great saliva makers. Plus, they are rich in calcium and phosphates. In fact, cheese is considered an anti-cavity food since it increases the pH level inside your mouth and decreases the risk of tooth decay.
When it comes to drinks, green and black tea are great options since they contain polyphenols that either kill bacteria or prevent them from growing and making acid that damage the teeth surface. Also, ensure your drinking water contains fluoride since it is healthy for the teeth. In fact, fluoride can not only reduce tooth decay and even reverse the effects of tooth decay over time.
At Iqaluit Dental Clinic, we suggest you consult a dentist if you notice the signs of the cavity and dental tooth decay to prevent further damage to your teeth and fix it as soon as possible. Common signs of tooth decay and cavity include tooth sensitivity, toothache, visible holes, pain when eating food or consuming drinks, and more.