Dental Health

Snack Smart

Healthy Snacking Did you know that the average American eats about 147 pounds of sugar a year? That's a big pile of sugar! No wonder the average 17-year-old in this country has more than three decayed teeth!

How can I "snack smart" to protect myself from tooth decay?

Before you start munching on a snack, ask yourself what's in the food you've chosen. And keep in mind that certain kinds of sweets can do more damage than others. Gooey or chewy sweets spend more time sticking to the surface of your teeth. Sticky snacks stay in your mouth longer than foods that you quickly chew and swallow, so they give your teeth a longer sugar bath.

You should also think about when and how often you eat snacks. Do you nibble on sugary snacks throughout the day, or do you just have dessert after dinner? Damaging acids form in your mouth every time you eat a sugary snack. The acids continue to affect your teeth for at least 20 minutes before they are neutralized and can't do any more harm. So, the more times you eat sugary snacks during the day, the more often you feed bacteria the fuel it needs to cause tooth decay.

Eating the right foods can help protect you from tooth decay and other diseases. Low-fat choices like raw vegetables, fresh fruits, or whole-grain crackers or bread are smart choices. However, be aware that even some fresh fruits, if eaten in excess, may promote tooth decay. Children should brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste after snacks and meals. (So should you!)

Snack Smart Food List

Pick a variety of foods from these groups:

Fresh fruits and raw vegetables

  • Berries
  • Oranges
  • Melons
  • Pears
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices
  • Canned fruits in natural juices


  • Bread
  • Plain bagels
  • Unsweetened cereals
  • Unbuttered popcorn
  • Tortilla chips (baked, not fried)
  • Pasta

Milk and dairy products

  • Low or non-fat milk, yogurt and cheeses

Meat, nuts and seeds

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Sliced meats
  • Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
  • Nuts

Oral health and wellness content provided by the Delta Dental Plans Association