If you work hard at managing your diet, then late night snacking could be a serious boon to your efforts. When a craving strikes, going back to sleep could be difficult, and you may give in just to get some rest. Besides affecting your otherwise carefully-followed diet, midnight snacking could also significantly influence your chances of developing a bacteria-induced dental issue, like tooth decay or gum disease. Dr. Wright explains how, and offers a few tips to curb your late-night cravings and avoid unnecessary threats to your smile’s integrity.
Food, Sleep, and the Germs in Your Mouth
When you eat or drink something, oral bacteria (many of which are responsible for cavities and gum disease) consume and metabolize the nutrients, often producing toxins and acids as a result. Most harmful oral bacteria are anaerobic (they thrive without oxygen), and saliva helps naturally control their presence (along with daily brushing and flossing your teeth). When you sleep, your saliva production naturally slows, allowing bacteria to gather in force. If you wake up to eat late into the night, then go back to sleep, you’ll feed the excessive masses of bacteria and further increase your risk of a dental disease.
Forego the Midnight Snack
Find a distraction
The simple thought of food can ignite a craving; if you’re already hungry, then thinking about food will only make it worse. Try replacing your mental images of food and eating with distractions, like playing video games or reading a book. You can also try taking a warm, relaxing bath, which can help you fall asleep faster.
Eat a later dinner
The longer you wait between eating dinner and going to bed, the more likely you’ll be to grow hungry before waking up in the morning. Time your dinner closer to your bedtime, but leave at least an hour between two. Otherwise, your digestion can suffer, as well as your quality of sleep.
Brush and floss before bed
Brushing and flossing your teeth is always preferable, especially before going to bed. On one hand, cleaning your teeth will limit the amount of bacteria already in your mouth by the time you fall asleep. On the other hand, the fresh-mouth feeling will help you curb your enthusiasm about snacking so soon after brushing your teeth.
About Your Southlake Dentists:
As a native Texan, Dr. Gregory Wright opened his private practice in Southlake, TX in 1992. He and Dr. Victoria Heron are happily accepting new patients from Southlake, Grapevine, Keller, Trophy Club, Colleyville, and all surrounding communities. To learn more, call our office today at (817) 481-7999.