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Updated: 1/14/2003 2:29 pm
Munching or snacking in-between meals is a habit and temptation that's hard to resist. What you choose to snack on can play an important role in your oral health. The bacteria that are normally found in your mouth convert all foods to acids, which then combine with food debris and saliva to form plaque. Plaque is the primary cause of tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss in adults. Without good daily oral hygiene, sugars and starches can be the most detrimental to your oral health. After eating, acids attack your mouth for approximately 20 minutes and begin to dissolve your tooth enamel. The American Dental Association, or ADA (A-D-A), recommends brushing and flossing after every meal. If you're unable to brush after snacking, choose your snacks wisely. Avoid sticky, chewy foods, and foods that contain sugars and starches. Nutritious foods such as cheese, fruits, raw vegetables and yogurt are recommended for both your oral and physical health. If you do snack, but are unable to brush, rinsing your mouth with water will help get rid of loose food particles that can lodge in between your teeth and gums. Chewing gum can temporarily satisfy your hunger if you're trying to avoid snacking in-between meals. In addition, the act of chewing gum helps keep your teeth clean as it stimulates saliva, which then helps neutralize the acid from the foods that may cause tooth decay. As everyone's dental care is unique, ask your dentist or hygienist their opinion on snacking and whether chewing gum would be beneficial in your situation.

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