Surprising Cavity-Causing Snacks That Are Worse Than Candy

girl with pumpkin on headWith Halloween right around the corner, our dental office in Lawrenceville wants to share a secret with our patients and neighbors. Did you know that there are snacks out there that are worse for your teeth than candy? You heard us right. Candy may not be the scariest thing for your oral health. It’s no trick. Just the truth.

A Note on Sugary Sweets

While we’re here to talk about surprising snacks that are dangerous to oral health, it is worth mentioning that candy is still a concern for your dentist in Lawrenceville. But it’s not really the sugar itself that’s the problem. It’s what happens to the sugar when you eat it. Bacteria that live in the mouth love sugar and will feed on it every chance they get. This keeps the bacteria full and healthy. But what’s more concerning is what happens when these bacteria digest sugars. Like all living things, bacteria have to release waste. They just so happen to release an acid that wears away tooth enamel and increases the likelihood of cavities. Because of this, it’s still important to enjoy sugary foods in moderation.

It’s Not Only About Sugar

Even though sugar gets a bad reputation when talking about keeping teeth healthy, there are other treats that can be just as damaging, if not more so.

Crackers & Chips

The high starch content found in crackers and chips can be more of a concern than sugar. While these snacks don’t necessarily taste sweet, the starches can affect the body very much the same way sugar does. This is because chips and crackers have a high glycemic index. Foods with a high glycemic index are known to increase blood glucose levels as the body digests them. This means that even though there’s low sugar listed in the ingredients, the starches will feed mouth bacteria the same way sugar does. This also means that bacteria will release more of the acidic byproduct and leave teeth at risk for decay. But that’s not all.

When chewed, chips and crackers form into almost a paste-like consistency. This makes them very sticky and they can easily get stuck in between teeth and in tooth grooves. The longer the starches are left in the mouth like this, the more they’re feeding the bacteria and the more acid is getting released.

Keeping Your Teeth Safe

Just like we recommend limiting the amount of sugary foods you eat, we also suggest snacking on starchy foods such as chips and crackers in moderation. But no matter what you choose to treat yourself to this Halloween, be sure to pair eating with drinking water. This will help wash away food particles, bacteria, and neutralize acid.

Happy Halloween from our Lawrenceville dental office!

woman chewing gumWhen it comes to candy it should come as no surprise that the team at our dental office in Lawrenceville can be wary of the stuff. But there is a type of candy that we actually encourage our patients to eat. Well, at least chew on. Sugarless gum, or more specifically, gum containing Xylitol, can help keep your mouth healthy.

What is Xylitol?

There are plenty of sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners out there, but Xylitol is a little bit different than what you may put in your morning coffee. Xylitol is a natural compound found in many fruits and vegetables and tastes sweet. But what makes this sweetener a favorite for your dentist in Lawrenceville is that it’s metabolized differently than regular sugar and sugar substitutes.

How Does Gum Protect Oral Health?

When we eat sugar, it first feeds the bacteria found in our mouths. After eating the sugars,  bacteria then release an acidic byproduct. This acid can eat away at tooth enamel and increase the chance for decay. But Xylitol doesn’t give bacteria the nutrients they need to survive. Therefore, teeth are protected from acid and you can still treat your sweet tooth without worrying about decay.

Besides starving bacteria from food, chewing sugarless gum can further reduce the acid levels in your mouth by stimulating saliva production. When we chew gum our salivary glands are working to keep the mouth moist. This surge of spit neutralizes any acids that may already be in your mouth and helps wash away dangerous bacteria. What’s more is saliva strengthens teeth by remineralizing them with calcium and phosphate.

Research has even shown that chewing Xylitol Gum can:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Lower the risk for gum disease
  • Help the body absorb calcium better which builds strong teeth

A Word of Caution

Xylitol is naturally occurring and considered safe. It’s even used in some medicines. However, some people may experience negative side effects when they have too much. Common side effect include intestinal discomfort such as gas, bloating, or diarrhea. It’s also highly toxic for dogs so make sure to store anything containing Xylitol securely where your pets can’t get to it.

While Xylitol can give your dental health a boost, it’s not recommended as a replacement to brushing and flossing. Make sure to still follow a proper oral hygiene routine at home and visit our dental office in Lawrenceville at least twice a year. 

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