Teeth need a snacking break, too

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Here is one more reason to keep your hand out of the chip bag — and this one may surprise you. Frequent snacking doesn’t just affect your waistline, it can also cause major problems for your teeth, harming your smile and health.

Snacking or drinking sweet or acidic beverages frequently throughout the day can lead to cavities.

It’s not just sugary foods that cause cavities. Snacks we think of as healthy — bagels, juice, granola bars and raisins — contribute to decay if used often.

Most of us don’t realize that teeth need time to rest between exposure to food and drink. Just like your muscles need time to recover after exercising, teeth need time to rest and rebuild in between drinking and eating.

Drinking — other than water — and snacking or “grazing” frequently during the day keeps food and drink on your teeth for extended periods of time, feeding the germs that cause painful and costly cavities.

Over your lifetime you can save about $2,000 for every cavity prevented.

A recent survey showed that 47 percent of adults in Washington appear to be snacking heavily enough to put their teeth at risk by constantly coating them with food and beverages.

Here are some tips to reduce the amount of time food has on your teeth:

Eat your snack, all at once

instead of nibbling over time.

Limit sugary and acidic drinks and starchy foods between meals.

Drink water, especially fluoridated water, between meals to rinse your teeth.

Brush twice a day and floss daily.

To learn more check out a new website called The MightyMouth.org, part of a Washington Dental Service Foundation effort.

Protecting your smile helps you look and feel your best. It’s an easy way to get healthier that’s right under your nose.

Dr. Jo Jackson is with the the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Washington.

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