Snack Smart to Avoid Cavities

Posted Jun 2021

By Delta Dental of Arkansas

Tagged phosphates, calcium, tooth enamel, remineralization, bacteria, acids, pH level, saliva, snacks

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Snack Smart to Avoid Cavities

Plate of chocolate candies

We’ve become a nation of snackers. More than 90 percent of adult Americans snack at least once a day, and the “snackification” of regular meals is on the rise.

All that frequent nibbling, munching and sipping increases your risk of tooth decay.

Saliva fights back against acids and bacteria

Snacks are quick bites meant to tie you over until your next meal, but also eaten out of boredom or to satisfy a craving for something sweet or salty. Often, they are prepackaged convenience foods high in sugar, fat and salt. Think mid-morning muffin, late-night TV chips or the pick-me-up candy bar.  

Consuming sugary, starchy or acidic foods or beverages (soft drinks!) lowers the pH level of your saliva. Within seconds, it drops from its neutral level (above 6.2) to below 5.5.

At that level, bacteria and acids start breaking down the outer, protective surface of your teeth called enamel. For about 20 minutes, they are in full-blown cavity mode before the pH level of your saliva rises again and fights back by strengthening the tooth enamel with calcium and phosphates. This “remineralization” process stops the acids and bacteria from attacking your teeth for a while—until you eat again.

Now imagine you nosh on a few chocolate candies, go away, come back to have a few more, and repeat this little routine over and over. Or picture your kids slurping a large coke all evening long while doing their homework. Your teeth are constantly bathed in acid, and your saliva can’t keep up.

You’re on a quick path toward cavities. Ouch.

Snack smart

There is a better way. You don’t have to give up your favorite munchies, but learn how to snack the smart way.

  • When having a treat, enjoy it all in one sitting. Then rinse your mouth with water or chew sugarless gum.
  • Try to limit snacking to just a few times during the week and stick to regular meals.
  • Use a straw when drinking acidic beverages.
  • Drink lots of water throughout the day to rinse your mouth and stay hydrated.
  • Reach for fresh, raw vegetables like carrots, zucchini and cucumber or crunchy apples and pears. A handful of protein-rich almonds, cashews or pistachio is also a good choice.
  • Find out more details how your favorite snacks might be ruining your smile.
  • When explaining this lesson to your kids, challenge them to rethink their drink and practice sugar swaps


Schedule regular dentist appointments

Regular dentist appointments are the best way to confirm that you’re a smart snacker and your daily flossing and brushing are top-notch. Schedule semiannual visits to have your dentist check for tooth decay and any other oral health issues.

We’re here to help you with affordable dental insurance for both group and individual/family plans and access to one of the state’s largest network of dental providers.

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Posted by Delta Dental of Arkansas



Posted by Delta Dental of Arkansas

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