Spending an afternoon sucking on sticky sweets or hard lollies will do more damage to your teeth than eating an entire chocolate bar in one go. The sticky sweets tend to get stuck in your teeth and then combine with the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids that attack and damage tooth enamel.
The situation is exacerbated if you eat one sticky sweet every half hour because the balance of acid in your mouth never gets a chance to recover. This is when cavities start to form. It is not the level of sugar in your diet that rots your teeth, it is how you choose to eat it.
The best tactic is to cater to your sweet tooth at meal times, when increased saliva production will help your mouth cope. Saliva works to naturally neutralise the bad acids and wash away food particles.
Another good idea is to try and limit the number of sweet foods you snack on throughout the day. Doing this successfully is a great way to avoid painful fillings and dental problems.
Try these healthy snacks that don't attack your teeth:
- Celery & carrot snacks with hommous or avocado dip
- Vegemite crackers with cheese
- Plain yoghurt, fresh fruit and nuts
When you do eat or drink a high-sugar snack there are tricks to minimise the damage to your teeth. After your snack, rinse your mouth with water, eat a small piece of cheese or chew some sugar-free gum. Cheese provides calcium to replace the minerals lost by the bacteria produced acid, and helps to even up the bacterial balance in your mouth. Chewing gum stimulates the flow of saliva. If you choose to have a soft drink, use a straw. This will limit the amount of sugar touching your teeth.
The best drinks for teeth are plain water or milk. Drinking coffee and tea will stain your teeth and dry your mouth out. Drinks high in caffeine inhibit your saliva's ability to combat tooth decay. Acidic fruit juice, such as orange juice, can also attack your teeth. This is because it alters the acidic balance in your mouth and leaves your tooth enamel vulnerable. To avoid damaging your teeth, remember to wait at least an hour after consuming acidic food or drink before brushing your teeth.Information taken from the Sunbeam Healthy Teeth Handbook