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Autumn 2006
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Tooth-friendly ways to satisfy a snack attack

The link between the food choices we make and our overall health, including teeth and gums, has long been recognized. We know that wrong snack choices made too often —and without following up with flossing and brushing—spell trouble for our teeth as well as the rest of our bodies.

When you’re looking for a between-meals snack, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research suggests you think about:

  • The number of times a day you eat sugary snacks: If you snack throughout the day, choose foods without a lot of sugar and fat.
  • How long the sugary food stays in your month: Damaging acids affect your teeth for at least 20 minutes before they’re neutralized.
  • The texture of the sugary food: Chewing or sticky foods bathe your teeth longer in sugar.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture encourages choices from its Food Guide Pyramid for snacks, as well as meals, instead of high-sugar beverages and foods:

  • Breads, cereals, other grain products
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, nuts
  • Milk, cheese, yogurt

Besides eating the right foods, maintaining your overall health includes flossing once a day, brushing twice daily, and scheduling dental checkups.