With modern lifestyles becoming even more busy and pressured, most people find that their eating habits are drastically changing to enable them to keep up. We have swung away from the traditional three square meals per day into a more frequent grazing or snacking routine where we often find ourselves eating on the go.
Many people don’t have the spare time to prepare and eat three meals per day, so rely more on ready-prepared foods and snacks to get them through the day. Working hours are long in the UK, meaning that by the time someone gets home in the evening from work, they are hungry and lack the energy to cook a meal from scratch. Eating too late in the evening can also mean going to bed on a full stomach, which can be very uncomfortable.
Grazing has now become so normal that even the word ‘grazing’ has had the definitions changed in the Oxford English dictionary to include ‘eating frequently at irregular intervals’. But how exactly does grazing and snacking on food frequently throughout the day affect our teeth?
Bad news for our teeth
With all the constant onslaught of food, drinks, biscuits and snacks throughout the day, means that our teeth are under almost continuous attack from plaque acids and bacteria. Plaque acids form on the teeth after we eat and can gradually eat away at the protective enamel. Each time we eat or drink something, the pH balance within the mouth changes. This means that pH levels drop down to dangerous levels where acid attacks from plaque can start to weaken our teeth.
What can we do to reduce this?
Other than give up work or look for a job that will allow us to eat properly, the most simple step would be to chew sugar-free gum after we eat anything. Brushing your teeth after every meal would be a better option, but carrying around your toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste may not be the most convenient solution while in the workplace.
A pack of sugar-free chewing gum can be carried in your pocket or handbag and can be a great way to tackle oral hygiene between your regular twice-a-day brushing. Chewing gum for 20 minutes following each meal and drink will help to remove or wash away any food particles that may be stuck between your teeth and will help to neutralise plaque acids.
According to research, the average worker now consumes at least two or three daily snacks outside of regular meal times each day. While it may not be convenient to brush your teeth after every meal and snack, chewing a piece of sugar-free gum will encourage the production of saliva, which helps to neutralise plaque acids and helps to clean the mouth of food particles.
Healthy food choices
Dentists also advise that if you are going to graze or snack on food throughout the day, lay off the biscuit tin and choose food and drink that naturally contain less sugar. Drink plain or sparkling water instead of fizzy pop or fruit juice. Choose raw nuts and seeds over sweets, biscuits and cakes. Fill up on sugar-free protein foods to keep you fuller for longer, such as cold cuts of meat, cheese and tinned fish. Drink tea and coffee without sugar. Chew sugar-free gum between meals for at least 20 minutes to neutralise plaque acids.