Everyone has gotten up at some point to grab a midnight snack. However, making a habit of eating before going to sleep can affect your teeth.
Late night nibbles can lead to tooth decay and ultimately leading to loss of teeth because when you eat right before bed and you don`t brush, you are leaving particles of your snack in your mouth for the entire night.
This allows for the bacterial content in your mouth to explode which can be harmful to both your teeth and gums.
Majority of people feel it is similar to an addiction where many do it out of routine and boredom.
Even our stomach is full at the end of the day, so it’s actually our brain that is telling us it’s hungry not our stomach which is why it becomes an addiction and routine.
Eating late at night can cause serious damage to teeth. Every time you eat or snack, the bacteria that naturally reside in your mouth feast on the food you eat. Just like every other living organism, these bacteria excrete waste after a meal. This waste is highly acidic and breaks down tooth enamel, causing decay or cavities.
When you go to sleep without brushing, plaque starts to harden and calcify on your teeth. Once plaque has calcified, it’s impossible to remove with a toothbrush and can only be removed by your dentist.
Dentists in India are routinely counseling their patients about the importance of professional dental cleanings and regular dental checkups as they can do wonders to keep your teeth in tip top shape.
Also your choice of snack has a great impact on your teeth. Sugary or grain based snacks, which is what we all usually crave, are notorious for generating more bacteria in our mouths.
There are multiple reasons why people crave late-night snacks.
Some common reasons that lead people to eat late-night snacks are loneliness, nutritional imbalance, frustration/ grief or anger.
There is a correlation between midnight snacking and loss of teeth. Those who eat high-fat diets especially at night tend to have a number of health problems, with one of them being loss of teeth.
During the day, our body is more active and our organs are functioning at high capacity, which means we can metabolize the food and process the energy more efficiently.
While at night, our genes that regulate metabolism slow down and therefore can’t process the energy from food as efficiently.
Saliva is pivotal in keeping your mouth clean, washing away leftover food and reinforcing tooth enamel.
Usually after consumption of food, the saliva washes away the food particles and changes the pH level back to the neutral levels required for a healthy oral cavity with reduced bacteria levels.
However, at night we have less salivary flow as our body also slows down the production of saliva when you sleep which means that food will remain in the mouth for longer time.
It causes a dry oral environment due to no salivary flow to clean the teeth the way it would during the day. So no matter what you eat, you will be providing the bacteria an atmosphere for it to grow and cause tooth decay and gum disease, ultimately leading to tooth loss.
Because of this, eating before bed will leave food particles on the teeth that allow acids and biofilm to be more aggressive than during morning hours. Over time, all of this leads to cavities on the teeth, because the teeth are not being cleaned after the midnight snack.
Dentists in Delhi make patients aware of the risks of late night nibbles and counsel them about the ways to avoid it.
To help overcome this issue, each person has to first assess what makes them crave food at night. Once they find out the reason, here are some ways:
- Have a well-balanced meal. If you still feel hungry at night after dinner maybe your body is not getting enough nutrition, get a full body checkup with your doctor.
- Drink lots of water. Your body’s need for water can sometimes be confused with food cravings. You can try flavored water to change up the routine of plain water.
- Avoid acidic foods/drinks when possible, they weaken the enamel.
- Reduce the amount of simple sugars or carbohydrates to reduce the amount of tooth decay.
- Most importantly brush your teeth at night before you sleep.
- Visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.
Dental clinics in India are routinely counseling their patients to brush their teeth twice a day, with the most important one being at night before bed.
Before going to bed is a good time to take care of your oral health as during the night, saliva production slows down. Midnight snacking leaves bacteria and plaque to better wreak havoc throughout the night.
Brushing your teeth is vital as it not only eliminates some of the existing bacteria in your mouth but it removes the food particles which they feed on. The simple act of brushing your teeth before bed can help stop bacterial build up, tooth decay and other dental complications.
Therefore, brushing at night means less buildup of bacteria on teeth (plaque and calculus), less cavities and provides you with fresh breath before going to sleep. This is why it is so important to brush before bed time.
Dental clinics in Delhi make it a point to explain their patients to follow some tips to help them avoid tooth loss by their late-night eating temptation.
- Whenever you eat or snack, rinse or brush your teeth afterward.
- Try not to eat or drink anything but water during the hour prior to going to bed.
- Have lots of fiber in your diet like fresh fruits and vegetables
- Have sugar free chewing gums as it neutralizes the acidic pH and doesn’t let the bacteria thrive.
So when the craving hits, satisfy your midnight sweet tooth with your snack. But once you are done then look after your real teeth by brushing them well before you go to bed.
Posted by- Dr Shriya