Healthy Summer Snacks

“Summertime and the livin’ is easy” but your choices for healthy snacks might not be, especially at summer parties and barbeques.

Cookies, crackers, chips, citrus fruits, soda, sugar-sweetened beverages and Aunt Martha’s famous chocolate caramel bars may be yummy but all of them have the potential to promote tooth decay.

Tooth decay and gum disease occur when plaque – a sticky film of bacteria – forms on the teeth. The bacteria thrive off the sugar that remains on your teeth after you eat or drink. If plaque is allowed to remain on the teeth, the bacteria breaks down the starches and sugars in food and creates acids that erode tooth enamel leading to the formation of cavities.

Almost all foods including milk or vegetables have some type of sugar. However they shouldn’t be removed from your diet because many of them contain important nutrients.

Fruit juices contain naturally occurring sugars while soda contains added sugars and calories with no nutritional value. By avoiding food with added sugar you can minimize the risk of developing dental caries.

Certain types of sweets and starchy snacks such as cracker and chips can do more harm than others. Gooey or chewy foods that stick to the surface of your teeth expose them to a longer sugar bath causing plaque to form.

Check out these healthy tips for your summertime sweet tooth:

  • Fresh Fruits – Apples increase saliva production which rinses cavity-causing acids and food particles from the mouth.
  • Foods rich in vitamin C such as melons, oranges, berries, broccoli, peppers and tomatoes can be helpful in maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can clear bacteria from the body and mouth and help build healthy teeth.
  • Limit the number of sweet snacks.  Every time you consume snacks with sugars, the teeth are attacked by acids for 20 minutes or more.
  • Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste that has the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. Clean between your teeth daily with floss. If you’re unable to brush twice daily, try rinsing your mouth with water to wash away some of the sugar left behind on your teeth.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and routine oral examinations.

The best way to protect your teeth against tooth decay is to practice good oral hygiene and make the right nutritional choices.

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