Those Snacks Between Meals Could Be Causing You Problems With Oral Health
Why regular small treats outside of mealtimes could cause more trouble than you think
Traditionally, people in the wealthier parts of the world have eaten three main meals; breakfast, dinner and tea, or breakfast, lunch and dinner depending on what part of the UK you are from. This has been the basic eating pattern for a long time, with most of the meals being home cooked. The last twenty or thirty years though has seen a change in eating patterns, with fewer people cooking and relying more on takeaways and microwave meals.
As we have mentioned previously, many of these ready made meals and snacks have a higher level of sugar than you might expect, and certainly more than would be found in most home cooked meals. This isn’t the only problem caused by ready to eat foods though and even the old pattern of eating is changing.
Whilst many of our Chelmsford patients probably do stick to the three meals a day routine, they may also ‘graze’ more, snacking as they go throughout the day. Even if this results in the same quantity of food being eaten, which it rarely does given the rise in obesity, it can present problems of its own for our overall oral health.
The first part of the problem is that these additional snacks are rarely healthy and tend to be high in fats and sugars. Whilst the fats can lead to general health issues, sugar can also cause problems such as tooth decay for patients of Blue Sky Dental. Even now, many people attempt to cut down on their sugar consumption by putting less in their tea and coffee but still often ignore the large amounts of sugar in snacks and ‘treats’. Some of these are fairly obvious, such as chocolate bars and other confectionery, but even savoury snacks will contain sugar, sometimes in quite large amounts. Added together, these can significantly increase the amount of tooth damaging sugar that we consume each day.
Acidity and remineralisation
The less well understood problem of eating at regular and often short intervals during the day doesn’t just lie in the quantity of sugar that we consume. When we eat food, the enamel on our teeth softens for a while before remineralising ready for the next meal. By eating at short intervals, our teeth don’t get the chance to fully recover and can easily be affected by the sugars and acid ingredients in our food. Eating in this manner, even if the food is relatively low in sugar, can cause the enamel to erode and wear down. This can result in very sensitive teeth and also increases the risk of tooth decay.
Ideally, we should eat our main meals and leave plenty of time in between to allow the enamel on our teeth to harden again so that they are well protected. It is for this reason that we recommend that you don’t brush your teeth for a short while directly after you have eaten.
Restoring damaged teeth
Of course, the advice given above may have come too late for some of our patients who will be more concerned with what they can do about their teeth if they have already been affected in this way.
The first thing that you should do, of course, is to arrange an appointment at our Chelmsford dental clinic so that we can examine your teeth. This will enable us to put into place an action plan to restore your teeth in the best way possible. Where tooth decay has already occurred, there are a number of options that are available. In many cases, a straightforward dental filling will be the most appropriate treatment. We can maintain the natural colour of your teeth by providing you with a tooth coloured filling that is made to match the natural colour of your own teeth. Where the problem is more significant, a crown may be a more appropriate treatment.
In many cases where enamel erosion has occurred, and especially where tooth sensitivity is a problem, porcelain dental veneers can be a very effective solution to this problem. Not only do they replace the worn enamel from the surface of your teeth but look great too. They are an increasingly popular option for people who want a long lasting white smile without the need for regular repeat treatments. Looked after correctly, teeth veneers can last you for ten years or more.
Hopefully this blog will enable you to reassess your eating habits, making them more tooth friendly in the future. If you have already suffered damage to your teeth though, you don’t have to put up with it. Treatment provided by one of our experienced dentists can restore your teeth to a functional and comfortable state. To find out how we can help you, please contact Blue Sky Dental on 01245 211070.