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Healthy Snack Ideas for Oral Wellness
Healthy Snack Ideas for Oral Wellness

It’s mid-afternoon when it strikes – the snack craving. You may be feeling that afternoon slump at work, or maybe the kids have just come home from school and immediately set upon finding something good to eat. Whether you tend to reach for something salty, crunchy, savory, or sweet ­– do you know if your go-to snacks are good or bad for your oral health?

Packaged snack foods might hit the spot, but tend to be loaded with excess calories from fat, sodium, sugar, and a whole host of chemical additives that we usually try not to think about. In addition, processed foods are by and large devoid of nutrients. What if, by following a few simple guidelines, your snack choices could actually provide a healthful boost to your teeth and gums?

Here are our top recommendations for making the most out of snack time:

Eat Mineral-Rich Foods

Tooth enamel is made of minerals, most prominently in enamel are calcium and phosphorus. Great snacks that give a healthy dose of calcium and phosphorus are cheese, yogurt, almonds, eggs, tofu, and pumpkin seeds.

Eat Vitamin-Rich Foods

Vitamins are key to keeping calcium in the teeth and for keeping gums healthy. Did you know that the body needs vitamin D to maximize calcium absorption? Hard-boiled eggs and cheese are all great snack sources of vitamin D.

Vitamin C is key to reducing inflammation in the gums by strengthening blood vessels and preventing oxidative stress. Try reaching for citrus fruits, berries, dark leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes, or peas to up your vitamin C intake.

Eat Foods with a High Water Content

Hydration is especially important to oral health. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day and consuming foods that contain water help flush excess bacteria away and keep the tongue, cheeks, throat, and gums comfortably moist. Many foods that have a high water content make great snacks, including watermelon, oranges, grapes, celery, cucumbers, bell peppers, and carrots.

Eats Food That Crunch

Raw, crisp fruits and vegetables not only satisfy a crunch craving, but gently polish the surface of the teeth, helping to remove plaque and tartar buildup. Keep reaching for those apples and celery sticks to get extra help fighting plaque.

Avoid Refined Sugars

White sugar is bad for your teeth because the sugar molecules adhere to the tiny bumps and ridges on the surface of the teeth, where bacteria can feed and proliferate when left unchecked. The harmful bacteria give off byproducts that create an acidic environment and wear down all the surfaces in the mouth. This can lead to all kinds of dental health issues such as cavities, weak enamel, increased sensitivity, abscesses, mouth sores, gingivitis, periodontal disease, and tooth decay.

Too much bacteria also means bad breath! When you do indulge in sweets like candy, cake, or cookies, make sure to brush as soon as possible to prevent the sugar from clinging to the surface of the teeth.

Even when you're eating foods that are great for your teeth, it is still important to drink plenty of water to help neutralize acidity, brush morning and night, floss every day, and use either toothpaste or mouthwash that contains fluoride to help protect and strengthen enamel.

Professional dental cleanings and check ups twice per year will help guarantee good dental (and overall) health. Regular dentist visits are key to maintaining healthy teeth and gums, as well as catching any issues before they get too serious.

Has it been a long time since your last dental visit? Call El Portal Dental Group at (209) 385-1479, or request an appointment online with one of our fantastic oral health specialists in El Portal, today.

Rethink Your Favorite Drink: How Much Sugar is in Your Drinks?
Rethink Your Favorite Drink: How Much Sugar is in Your Drinks?

Since your childhood, you have probably been warned that eating too much sugar will rot your teeth. What many people don’t realize is that some of the most popular drinks out there actually contain just as much (or more) sugar per serving than sugary foods.

Drinks can be a sneaky source of excess sugar, and unfortunately it’s not just sodas we should be worried about - shockingly, many fruit juices and other drinks contain as much sugar as soda! While fruit juices do provide some healthy vitamins and antioxidants, the corrosive threat of sugar to the teeth and overall health may overshadow those benefits.

When we consume sugar, the naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths frenziedly feed off the sugars, and the by-product is enamel-eroding acid. The more sugar consumed, the more acid is produced. This is really bad news for anyone hooked on sugar-laden beverages, because drinking soda or juice is basically like drowning your teeth in sugar, and eroding their protective enamel.

Protecting the enamel coating of your teeth is incredibly important. Enamel wears away easily and once it’s gone, it’s gone; there’s no getting it back. Is it time to re-evaluate your beverage habits to save your teeth?

Take a look at these alarming amounts of sugar in some of the most common popular drinks:


Amount of Sugar

Serving Size




12 ounces

20 ounces




12 ounces

20 ounces

Canada Dry Ginger Ale


12 ounces

Mountain Dew


20 ounces

Sun Drop


20 ounces

Orange soda


20 ounces

RockStar Energy Drink



8 ounces

16 ounces

Red Bull


8.3 ounces

Vitamin Water


20 ounces

Arizona Lemon Iced Tea


24 ounces

Snapple Lemon Iced Tea


16 ounces

MinuteMaid Lemonade


20 ounces

Newman’s Own Limeade


8 ounces

Grape juice


12 ounces

Orange juice


8 ounces

Apple juice


8 ounces

Cranberry juice


16 ounces

Nesquik Chocolate Milk


16 ounces

Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino


16 ounces

McDonald’s Frappe Mocha


12 ounces

Just for comparison, a ½ cup serving of vanilla ice cream only contains about 20 grams of sugar, as does an average slice of apple pie. Serving amounts and beverage size may vary depending on the brand, but these estimates help to give you an idea of just how much sugar you’re getting in your drink. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that only 5% of your calories come from sugar daily, which breaks down to just 25 grams based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

And just when we thought a way around this issue was to select the diet versions of these drinks, more bad news came along: diet sodas and energy drinks contain high amounts of citric acid, which also erodes tooth enamel! The best thing to do is try to select drinks that contain no sugar or other harmful additives in order to preserve good oral health. When you do consume sugary drinks or foods, be sure to brush your teeth afterwards to minimize the damage.

If your teeth are sensitive to hot or cold foods or beverages, you may already have weakened enamel. Call El Portal Dental Group today in Merced at (209) 385-1479 to make an appointment with one of our qualified dental professionals, such as Dr. Dominique Hunt, to discuss what you can do to protect the health of your teeth, gums, and jaw bones. 

Dr. Hunt can evaluate your teeth to determine whether you need procedures to repair or replace teeth that have suffered from decay.

Good Foods vs Bad Foods for Oral Health
Good Foods vs Bad Foods for Oral Health

A healthy smile doesn’t just look good, it’s good for you. Oral health plays a significant role in your overall health; in fact, researchers have found that people with oral diseases, such as tooth decay and periodontal disease, have a higher likelihood of  developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

So what can you do to improve your oral health and prevent this from happening?

Eat More: Fruit and Vegetables

Vegetables and fruit aren’t just good for your body; they are good for your teeth too. Fruits and vegetables are high in water and fiber to help balance sugar content. They help clean your teeth and stimulate saliva production, which washes away harmful food particles.

Many fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C, which has been shown to help prevent gum disease. Dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach are an excellent choice for oral health, as they contain important bone-strengthening minerals including calcium and phosphorus, helping to protect tooth enamel.

Eat Less: Sugary Foods, Including Candy

Eating refined sugar in food of any form promotes tooth decay and gum disease, as sugar feeds bacteria in the mouth that produce tooth-destroying acid. The longer sugar is left on your teeth after you eat it, the greater your risk for cavities and other dental problems.

Eat More: Dairy Products

Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and plain yogurt are high in calcium and phosphorus to help prevent tooth loss. These types of foods also contain a protein which can prevent tooth decay from acid-producing bacteria. Recent research has shown that dairy products can reduce tooth decay in addition to preventing it.

Eat Less: Starchy Foods

Starch can get trapped in between your teeth, becoming difficult to remove which in turn encourages cavities and gum disease. Consumption of high-starch foods such as white bread, cake, and chips should be reduced to protect your teeth.

Eat More: Proteins, Nuts, and Seeds

Proteins like meat (including poultry and fish), nuts, and seeds contain phosphorus to help protect your tooth enamel, and many of them also contain calcium to keep your teeth strong and healthy. Too much protein is not good for your body, so don’t overdo it.

Eat Less: Acidic Foods (and Drinks)

Foods with a high acid content, such as pickles, processed deli meats, and soda can be even more harmful than sugar. While occasionally indulging is not likely to cause any harmful effects, long-term daily consumption of acidic foods can destroy tooth enamel.

Of course, good oral health also includes regular professional dental checkups. Take control of your health by eating right and keeping regular dental appointments. Our team at El Portal Dental Group would love to help you reach your health goals – call us at (209)385-1479 or request an appointment online today.