Mark time for healthier teeth

Posted: 02 April 2014

How often you eat has a big impact on how often you will need to go to the dentist for treatment.

“Ideally we should try to leave at least three hours between meals or snacks to maintain healthy teeth,” said Professor Eeva Widström, chief dental officer, Institute of Welfare and Health, Helsinki, at the International Sweeteners Association conference in Brussels last week (02-04-14).

Bacteria produce acid from carbohydrate food debris on the tooth surface to cause dental caries, explained Prof Widström. Acid breaks down the tooth’s protective hard surface, eroding its enamel and also causing caries (holes) in the teeth.

“Saliva contains minerals such as calcium that can repair the damage, but constant snacking throughout the day does not give the minerals in the saliva time to repair damage.”

“Saliva produced during the night is not as good as that produced in the day, so avoid food and snacks in the evening – make the latest 9pm,” advised Prof Widström.

“If between-meal snacks are essential choose cheese which is rich in minerals,” suggested Prof Widström. Good choices of between meal drinks are water, milk and low calorie sweetened beverages.”

“Clean teeth twice a day using toothpaste with a high concentration of fluoride,” said Prof Widström “and adults should also use interdental cleaners.”

Janette Marshall, Nutrition and Health Journalist