Watch Out For These Foods On the Road

Dental_healthFor generations of Americans, few phrases summon as much of a sense of adventure as the words “road trip”! As spring break rolls around, plenty of families are taking to the highways to experience the fun and excitement of travel.

However, although road trips can be mind-expanding, they can also be a threat to your dental health, due to the food you may consume while traveling. But travel doesn’t have to be a dental danger zone! Follow these guidelines to keep your mouth healthy and happy.

Steer clear of these dental health “road hazards”

Limit your snacks. One factor that has a major influence on how much plaque builds up on your teeth is how often you eat. If you can stick to eating three well-balanced, health-enhancing meals per day, you’ll be doing your mouth a favor.

Watch out for “secret” sugar in your foods. If you’re eating a lot of processed food while you’re traveling, you’re getting a lot of hidden sugar, which harms your teeth. Learn to identify all the forms that sugar can take by reviewing this list of alternate names for sugar-based sweeteners.

Pull the plug on energy drinks. They may help wake you up, but many of them contain large amounts of sugar, as do some vitamin-water drinks.

Don’t turn to diet soda. While it doesn’t have sugar, diet sodas can damage your teeth with the phosphoric acid and carbonation they contain, because those ingredients erode tooth enamel.

Skip the chips. Snack foods don’t have to be sweet to be a threat to your teeth. Anything you eat that contains high levels of carbohydrates – including potato chips, breads, or French fries – will break down into simple sugars, which plaque-forming bacteria love to feast on.

Even fruit has a dark side. Dried fruit contains highly concentrated sugars (because of the drying process) and non-soluble cellulose fiber that can trap sugars on and around the tooth.

If you want to be on the safe side, water is a great item to stock up on for road trips, as it keeps your mouth hydrated and flushes food debris from your mouth. Also, if you’re between locations where it is easy to floss and brush, chewing sugarless gum containing xylitol can provide some protection.

“Taking a road trip doesn’t have to wreck your dental health,” says Dr. Carol Ford, a cosmetic dentist practicing in central Phoenix. “Planning your snacks and meals ahead of time can help you avoid making bad choices.”

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