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Monday 18th June 2018

Midnight snacks cause tooth loss

8th June 2010

People who indulge in a midnight snack are probably doing serious damage to their teeth, according to a recent Danish study.


The research team found that any form of late-night snacking, regardless of the type of food people ate, heightened people's chances of tooth loss.

The reason why seems to have to do with the way saliva changes during the night.

Normally, people's mouths tend to dry up at night, which is all right if there is no food in the mouth.

However, if there is food in the mouth, the low saliva flow means that the mouth cannot cleanse itself, as it does during the day.

For the study, which was part of a project on cardiovascular disease, the researchers collated 2,217 people's medical records.

The subjects were of both genders, and their ages ranged between 30 and 60 years.

Of the 2,217 original study subjects, 173 were classified as 'nocturnal eaters.'

Those 173 subjects tended to take in at least a quarter of their calories after dinner or after waking in the middle of the night.

People who only woke up in the middle of the night once were not classified as nocturnal eaters, however.

The researchers paid close attention to the oral health of the subjects, in addition to asking them questions about their eating habits.

After six years, the team followed up with the subjects.

They found that the 8% of the subjects who were 'nocturnal eaters' had lost more teeth after six years than the other study subjects had.

The researchers said that dentists should encourage people to be aware of the impact late night snacking had on their teeth.

They said that dentists should introduce routine screening procedures that would give extra attention to people who tend to have late night snacks.

Damien Walmsley, a scientific adviser to the British Dental Association, said that people should brush their teeth just before going to bed, and only have water beforehand.

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