Turns out snacking between meals is pretty bad for our teeth. Around a third of adults have obvious cavities and it could all be down to our habits changing, mostly eating between meals.
A recent report provided by Wrigley’s Oral Health Care Programme revealed that most respondents snack a least once a day between meals (82%) and almost half (48%) enjoy two snacks or more per day.
Overall adult oral health has improved over the last 40 years with over 60% of adults aged 55 and over having more than 21 natural teeth, compared to around 30% in 1978 (figures from Adult Dental Health Survey 2009).
There is however more you can do to stop these cavities forming, chewing sugar free gum after meals and snacks can help lower the acidity in your mouth, which is one of the main causes of tooth decay.
When dietary sugars are consumed acid begins to be produced and so the pH in your mouth falls (low pH is more acidic eg the pH of lemon juice is 2.4) and further destruction of tooth tissue will occur. If sugars are consumed frequently throughout the day then damage occurs often and your saliva will not have a chance to repair the damage before the next wave starts. Gradual loss of mineral tissue from teeth leads to breakdown and the development of a cavity (i.e., tooth decay)
This diagram shows the intake of sugar compared to the acidity levels found in your mouth after eating. Without the time to balance back out your teeth are continually subjected to a barrage of acid, breaking down the tooth.