When following a healthy diet, especially if you’ve struggled with dental issues, it’s a good to pick out foods that are tooth-friendly. Choosing a snack can be especially challenging since many popular options tend to contain ingredients that can promote tooth decay.

Tooth decay occurs when the bacteria found naturally in your mouth combines with sugar from your food to create an acid. That acid can weaken the protective enamel on your teeth and eventually create holes, or cavities. Taking care to avoid increasing the acidity in your mouth in this way can make a real difference in your oral health.

What Snacks To Limit

Snacks that are high in sugar, carbohydrates, or acid have the most potential to harm your teeth. Some foods you should limit or avoid in order to protect your dental health include:

  • Coffee
  • Citrus
  • Pasta
  • Alcohol
  • Soda
  • Bread
  • Chocolate

If you do eat or drink some of these less healthy snacks, you won’t immediately get a cavity or stain your teeth. There are still ways to take action to ensure that your teeth stay their healthiest after you drink a cup of coffee or eat an orange. These include:

  • Brushing your teeth – Brushing 30 minutes after eating these less healthy foods will help ensure you remove as much food debris and sugar as possible from your tooth enamel without the risk of damaging the enamel itself.
  • Flossing – Even healthier foods like unbuttered popcorn can harm your teeth if the kernels aren’t all removed. Flossing reduces the likelihood of gum inflammation in those harder to reach spots between the teeth.
  • Rinsing with water – If you’re not able to brush your teeth about 30 minutes after eating, rinsing your mouth with water can help some.
  • Limit exposure time – Cavities are more likely to form when you eat less healthy foods over time. For example, if you do eat a cookie after lunch, don’t continue drinking soda the rest of the afternoon.

Altering your diet and committing to a tooth cleaning routine are steps that can dramatically improve your oral health and overall life.

What Snacks To Seek Out

When looking for a tooth smart snack, look for foods and drinks that are low in sugar and fat and high in fiber and nutritional value. Many people find they’re most successful when they replace a favorite less healthy snack with a healthier one, instead of cutting snacks out entirely. Some options include:

  • Fresh fruits – Most fruits have lots of vitamins that are tough to get elsewhere, like vitamin C and potassium, and their sweet flavor can satisfy any sweet tooth. Although they “have sugar” in the generic sense, most fruit sugar is bound to fiber, so it won’t harm your teeth unless it gets stuck in between them.
  • Raw vegetables – Veggies can be a refreshing, crunchy snack. If you eat any dips with them, just make sure they’re tooth smart too.
  • Nuts – Some nuts, especially almonds and pistachios, can be a filling and delicious snack full of healthy fats. Just be careful not to bite down too hard to avoid the risk of cracking or chipping a tooth.

Popcorn is another favorite snack for those looking to improve their eating habits. As long as you don’t put too much salt, sugar or butter on it, avoid eating the hard, un-popped kernels, and make sure it doesn’t stay stuck in your teeth, it can be a great choice.

Keep a Clean Mouth

You can do a lot to prevent tooth decay all on your own by eating well and practicing good oral hygiene. Visiting the dentist every six months to receive a professional exam and cleaning ensures the health of your teeth. With these healthy habits, you’ll have far fewer tooth problems.