Snacking and Oral Health

Snacking and Oral Health
We have touched on nutrition in terms of what is ideal for oral health, but what about overall eating habits? What snacks should be included in a healthy diet? When should foods be avoided? It is vital that you make the right choices, promoting your oral health.

We have already focused on nutritious foods, as well as foods that should be avoided. However, snacks are a large concern regarding one’s oral health. The following information will allow you to snack smart, not only for your oral health, but your other internal systems as well.

For starters, mindless snacking should be reduced. It is ideal to eat small amounts of food between meals, as this helps promote stable energy. For example, a handful of almonds or a yogurt. Where snacking becomes dangerous and harmful, is when individuals snack out of boredom. Snacks are often high-calorie options, which are packed with sugar.

Since people are less prone to brush their teeth after snacking (in comparison to a meal), greater emphasis should be placed on mealtimes. By reducing the amount of candy, soft drinks, and other high-fat, high-sugar snacks; you have already taken a major step in the right direction. Replace these options with healthy options. Raw vegetables for instance, are a great snack. Some celery sticks between meals, are much more beneficial than a bag of candy.

When focusing on children, it is vital that they have snacks between meals. They need high levels of energy, as well as nutrients to fuel their development. The following snack ideas, will provide you and your children with the nutrients you need, while promoting good oral health.

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES FOOD GROUP

Snack Idea Why It's a Good Choice Some Recommendations

Fruits and Vegetables (cooked and raw)

Just like all other areas of your body, your teeth, gums, and mouth, need nutrients to develop and function. Fruits and vegetables provide many vitamins and minerals.

They are typically low in fat, yet high in fiber.

When consuming high levels of fruits and vegetables, you essentially prevent tooth decay and other related illnesses. You also help prevent chronic conditions such as diabetes and cancer.

  • You should be consuming a minimum of five servings a day
  • Fresh, raw vegetables
  • Salads
  • Frozen corn, peas, or spinach
  • Fresh fruit
  • Remember, there are certain fruits and vegetables that are acidic. Whenever possible, eat these items with your main meals, brushing afterwards.
  • Fruit juice is not recommended between meals. Do not give any fruit juice to children under 6 months. Once past this age, dilute unsweetened juice with one part water, one part juice, given ONLY at mealtimes.
  • The same is true for dried fruit, as it should not be consumed between meals. The stickiness can negatively affect one’s teeth.

MILK AND DAIRY FOOD GROUP

Snack Idea Why It's a Good Choice Some Recommendations

Milk

Milk is high in vitamins, minerals, and protein.

The calcium and phosphate that are consumed through milk, help to re-mineralize teeth. This is especially true when teeth have been exposed to acidic food items.

  • When children are above the age of five, a glass of milk between meals is a healthy snack choice. Focus on low-fat options such as skimmed or semi-skimmed.
  • When children are between the ages of 2 and 5, whole milk is recommended.

Cheese

Once again, it provides you with numerous vitamins and minerals, benefiting your teeth.

Cheese stimulates the production of saliva.

This is meant as an occasional snack between meals, as cheese is high in fat and calories.

  • When children are younger than 2, full-fat cheese can be given on occasion.
  • Once they’re older than 2, they can switch to lower fat options (as long as they’re eating a balanced and varied diet).

Yogurt

Once again, yogurt offers a beneficial source of calcium. It also provides vitamin A and D.

  • Opt for low-fat, low-sugar yogurt. Natural or plain yogurt are your best options.
  • Add fresh fruit to yogurt, increasing its nutritional value.
  • Avoid yogurt tubes, as these can be harmful to your teeth (which are often given to children).

GRAINS AND STARCHY FOODS

Snack Idea Why It's a Good Choice Some Recommendations

Wholegrain Bread Products

Wholegrain foods are essential for a balanced diet. Also, they do not typically pose a threat on one’s oral health.

  • Choose breads that are high-fibre (rye, granary, millet)
  • Avoid items like croissants, as they are high in fat.
  • High sugar spreads are not recommended between meals (these include jams, honey, marmalade, ketchup, etc.)

Breakfast Cereal

When choosing wholegrain cereals, you provide your body with a fortified snack option, which provides various vitamins and minerals.

  • Avoid breakfast cereals that are high in sugar (check labels).

Also, avoid adding sugar to any cereal.

DRINKS (NON-DAIRY)

Snack Idea Why It's a Good Choice Some Recommendations

Water

Plain water is the best possible drink for your teeth in terms of safety.

It is calorie and sugar-free, making it an ideal choice. It also helps to maintain hydration.

  • If you’re concerned with your tap water, invest in a filter.

When focusing on snacking, meat is not generally an ideal option. There are many processed meat products, which are quick and easy, however they contain high amounts of salt and fat. When choosing meat options, opt for lean, lower-fat products. Too much red meat or processed food, is linked to chronic health complications.

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