Snacking between meals could be affecting oral health improvements throughout the UK, according to research by the British Dental Health Foundation.
More than 2,000 members of public took part in the survey ahead of National Smile Month in a campaign to improve oral health care.
It was found that more than 51% do not think cheese is good for oral health, but 67% believe snacking on fresh and dried fruit throughout the day is of benefit.
Chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, said: ‘Frequent consumption of sugary foods and drinks naturally weakens the enamel on the teeth. If people do snack between meals, choose foods and drinks that do not contain sugar, limiting the amount of time the mouth is at risk.’
Dr Carter believes that a poor diet is contributing to a growing social and economic burden of chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes, as well as obesity, which can lead to poor oral health.
He said: ‘Most people know and understand how various foods and drinks affect their body and overall health but many remain unaware that diet also plays a vital role in oral health. Poor diet contributes to a variety of problems in the mouth including tooth decay, erosion and bad breath.’
Dr Carter emphasises the importance of an improved diet and encourages good eating habits, especially from a younger age.
‘The cost of poor diet has a profound effect on our health. In the UK, an estimated £9.65 billion was spent on oral health care in 2012 – a figure which is predicted to increase by almost a fifth (17.2%) to £11.31 billion by 2020.’