What snacks are best for my child’s oral health?
Sugary snacks taste good, but are often bad for your teeth and your body. Avoiding too much candy, cakes, cookies, and other sugary foods will keep children healthy and avoid cavities.
Consider how often your child is snacking. Nibbling on sugary snacks throughout the day will encourage damaging acids to form. These acids continue to affect your teeth for at least 20 minutes before they are neutralized. The more times you eat sugary snacks during the day, the more often you feed bacteria the fuel they need to cause tooth decay.
If your child eats sweets, it is best to eat them as dessert after a main meal instead of several times a day between meals. Try to avoid sticky, gooey snacks. Sticky snacks stay in your mouth longer than foods that you quickly chew and swallow.
Try to choose a non- sugary and low-fat options when snacking.
- Raw fruits and vegetables
- Whole grain crackers
- Unbuttered popcorn
Can my child continue to drink juice?
Most juice is loaded with sugar and acids. Even the juice that claims, “no sugar added”, still has sugar. When you juice a fruit, all of the fiber is removed. You are left with a concentrated fructose. Just like refined sugar, fructose causes your child’s blood sugar levels to rise. Your child gets a burst of energy that triggers the body to store energy as fat. Not only is drinking too much juice linked to type II diabetes and other health concerns, it can cause early childhood caries. The acids and sugars combined in the juice create the perfect environment for cavities to flourish.
When your child is thirsty, try to stick to water and milk. Keep your children snacking on whole fruits and vegetables that are better for their systemic and oral health!
What about the nutritional value of juice?
Non-organic fruit juices are often irradiated to get rid of bacteria and make them last longer. Irradiation kills nutrients in food, and causes other health risks.
Don’t be fooled by Organic Juice! Even healthy juices are pasteurized, which heats the juice to a certain temperature that kills of the nutritious, beneficial properties like the vitamins.
Remember that manufactures are required to publish the nutrition of the juice on their label, but not their levels of acid. Consuming high levels of acid damages the teeth and has many other health concerns. Tooth enamel begins demineralize when acid levels drop below 5.5 on the pH scale. Most juice has a pH level of 2.7-3.8 while cola has a pH level of 2.5. These should be considered treats and consumed occasionally.
Does this mean my child can’t ever have juice?
No, not at all! Juice should be considered a treat for your children because in moderation, it is a harmless treat.
Tips to Help Prevent Tooth Decay
- Avoid eating a lot of sugary and sticky foods. The longer food stays on the tooth, the more acids will be produced, so sticky foods can cause more damage. Even healthy snacks, such as raisins and dried fruits, can cause tooth decay if they are left on the surface of the tooth.
- Cut down on snacking between meals. This will help prevent plaque from producing acid and will reduce the time that your teeth are exposed to harmful acids.
- Consume more calcium. Calcium helps strengthen your tooth’s hard outer surface layer.
- Use a toothpaste and mouthwash with fluoride. Fluoride helps make tooth surfaces harder and stronger.
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year. Diagnosing decay in its early stage can prevent unnecessary treatments.
- Oral Hygiene! Follow your dentist’s recommendations of brushing at least two times a day for two full minutes.
- Drink plenty of water! Especially if you take medications. Water and saliva clean the mouth by washing away food and debris. Saliva supplies high levels of calcium, fluoride and phosphate to the surface of the tooth.