Frequent snacking can be your  teeth’s biggest enemy.  Just as important as what kinds of foods you eat, is when and how often  you snack.  Everyone has bacteria in their mouths!  When bacteria meets up with sweet foods, beverages, or starchy foods, acid is created in your mouth.  This plaque attack can last 20 minutes!  During this time, the acid is attacking tooth enamel, making it weak.  This is how cavities can start.  It is better eating a snack at one sitting.  Eating 5 pieces of a snack at one time exposes your teeth to possible tooth decay, 1 time for approximately 20 minutes.  Eating those same 5 pieces at 5 different times exposes teeth to possible decay for approximately 100 minutes!  

Sucrose: Refined sugar that is the most cavity producing type of sugar because of the way it is metabolized by decay causing bacteria.

Fructose:  The sugar found naturally in fruits.  It is easier to digest than sucrose because it doesn’t need insulin in order to get to the liver and other cells.  Fructose is also 70% sweeter than sucrose, so it takes fewer calories to achieve the same sweetness.

Smart Snacks

Fresh fruit and raw vegetables:  Berries, bananas, apples, melon, pineapple, pears, oranges, brocolli, carrots, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes.

Grains: Bread, bagles, unsweetened cereals, unbuttered popcorn, bakes tortilla chips, low sodium pretzels, crackers, cheese pizza.

Dairy products: Milk, low or non-fat yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, string cheese, cheese and crackers, American cheese or mild cheddar.

Meat, seeds, and nuts: Chicken, turkey, sliced meats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts, 100% peanut butter-sugar free or reduced fat.

 Harmful food choices

Honey, jam, and jelly

soft drinks, kool-aid, lemonade, sports drinks

processed cereals with added sugar or sugar coated

candy-especially sticky ones such as now ‘n’ laters, taffy

raisins, fruit snacks, and fruit roll-ups

canned fruit in syrup

gum with sugar


white bread

pies, pastries, cookies

Natural apple or grape juice-these juices consist of a sugar and acid solution with natural or artificial flavors added.  Most of the nutrients are removed leaving the sugar and acid.  This is a deadly combination for teeth.  The recommendation for juice is 4oz./day and 50% diluted with water. 

We are not saying that your child can’t enjoy these foods occasionally, but we recommend they be eaten as part of a meal rather than a snack.  Also, if your child  can’t brush after meals, have your child rinse with warm water.  Remember to assist your child in brushing at least twice a day: morning and especially before bed.  Floss daily!

For more information on cavity-causing foods click here.

Pediatric Dental Center
Warren, MI 
Dr. Shah, Dr. O’Riordan