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The Mighty Mouth

Save your smile by reducing snacks and giving your teeth a breakSave your smile by reducing snacks and making healthy choices.

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 problems for teeth, harming both your smile and your overall health.

Snacking or drinking sweet or acidic beverages (even diet soda) frequently throughout the day can lead to painful cavities. Here is another twist: It is not just sugary foods that cause cavities. Even snacks that we think of as healthy, such as bagels, juice, granola bars and raisins, contribute to decay if they are consumed too often.

Most of us don’t realize that teeth need time to rest and rebuild between exposure to food and drink—just as your muscles need time to recover after exercising. Drinking (other than water) and snacking or “grazing” frequently during the day keep food and drink on your teeth for extended periods, feeding the germs that cause costly cavities.

Over your lifetime, you can save about $2,000 for every cavity prevented. Most adults have 32 teeth, so preventing tooth decay can add up to real savings.

A recent survey showed that nearly half of adults in Washington appear to be snacking heavily enough to put their teeth at risk by constantly coating them with food, sugar or acidic drinks such as soda, juice, sports drinks or wine.

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

  • If you have a snack, eat it all at once instead of nibbling over time.
  • Limit sugary and acidic drinks and starchy foods between meals.
  • Drink water, especially fluoridated, between meals to rinse off your teeth.
  • Brush teeth twice a day, and floss daily. Flossing cleans about 40 percent of your tooth surfaces.

So, instead of just going to a gym or beauty salon to improve your appearance, resolve to pay attention to your teeth, too. Protecting your smile helps you look and feel your best.