Did you know that what you eat could have a big impact on the health of your teeth and gums, even if you do your best to brush and floss daily and see your dentist regularly?
The foods that are most to blame for the buildup of plaque are those that are high in—you guessed it—sugar. So making it a point to cut back on your sugar intake, and to limit foods that contain added sugars, is a smart move.
Having a sweet treat every now and then is better than eating sugary foods throughout the day, as lowering your sugar intake may help prevent the formation of cavities, especially if you follow a strict oral hygiene routine.
Stumped about which healthy snacks to enjoy when you want to satisfy your sweet tooth without boosting decay? We’ve compiled a short list below to help you out.
Fresh Fruit – No Juice Allowed
Okay, we know what you’re thinking. You’re questioning why we’d even recommend fruit as a healthy snack because it contains sugar. And that’s true; fruit does contain sugar. But, in addition to having some natural sugar, various fruits are highly nutritious, and those nutrients could help your body maintain the health of your mouth.
Experts recommend indulging in sweet fruits when they’re fresh and whole, rather than juiced or transformed into a smoothie. Think about it: juices and smoothies don’t remove any of the sugar, and they make it easier for the sugar to coat your teeth. Not good! So, rather than pretty much giving your teeth a sugar bath, enjoy fresh, whole fruit that could give you a nice dose of fiber too.
Here are a couple of other reasons why snacking on whole fruits is recommended:
- Some fresh fruits, like apples, pears, and citrus, boast a texture that could help clean your teeth, promote salivation, and stimulate the gums as you chew. Nice, right?
- Berries contain anthocyanins that might be able to reduce pathogens on teeth. Snack on cranberries, which may be able to get in the way of enzymes that are connected to the formation of plaque. But if cranberries aren’t your thing, you could also enjoy other berries, such as raspberries and blueberries, when searching for healthy snacks.
Eat Your Veggies!
Another great reason to eat more veggies: they could serve as healthy snacks that help maintain oral health. Low in sugar, raw veggies also have a texture that requires plenty of chewing, so they could help stimulate the production of saliva, which assists in keeping the mouth clean. On top of that, the fibrous texture of raw veggies like celery and carrots could also help stimulate the gums to keep them strong.
Still not convinced? Here are more reasons to snack on vegetables when you’re hungry:
- Veggies provide your body with a host of nutrients, such as vitamin A, that your body can use to maintain strong teeth.
- Eating colorful veggies (including the dark leafy greens that everyone’s always talking about) could help maintain oral health, thanks to the fact that these snacks are powerhouses of nutrients like vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
You Can Eat Grains—Just Make Sure They’re Whole
If you were worried that you wouldn’t be able to snack on carbs, the good news is that, you can! However, it’s best to stick with whole grain options, such as whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, barley, millet, and quinoa. Compared to processed grains, whole grains will probably have less sugar—but reading labels is never a bad idea, just to be sure.
Healthy whole grain snacks could include whole wheat crackers, unsweetened whole wheat cereal, brown rice cakes, and (yes!) popcorn. Yum!
Seeds and Nuts: Tiny but Mighty Healthy
Finally, when searching for snacks that could help you cut down on sugar while giving your body a good dose of nutrients, consider munching on nuts and seeds.
Plain or roasted, it should come as no surprise that it’s best to stick with nuts and seeds that haven’t been coated in sweeteners. A few great choices include pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, along with walnuts, pecans, and cashews.
Eating right, brushing and flossing, and seeing your dentist with the help of affordable dental insurance are a few of the biggest steps that you can take towards maintaining your oral health. Hopefully, this list of snacks to reach for when you’re cutting back on sugar to keep your chompers clean will help you make wiser choices. And go ahead, get creative! You might consider adding fresh fruit to plain oatmeal, having peanuts and apple slices, or dipping carrots into some hummus. Your taste buds, and your teeth, will thank you!