The food that children love the most like cookies, milk, ice cream, and candy are those that could have the most negative affect on their teeth. These foods are so rich in sugar and starch that they effectively become precursors for tooth decay when they are in contact with the child’s teeth for prolonged period of time. Parents turn to the experts at the Children’s Dental FunZone for advice on their children’s dental health and diet. The dentists at our offices always feel that the best thing parents can do for their children is to help them make healthy choices when it comes to food. These days there are many tooth-friendly, healthy alternative snacks and foods that may appeal to the taste of children.
Instead of starchy pretzels and potato chips, offer fruits and vegetables for snacks instead. Fruits and vegetables such as melons, cucumbers, celery, and pears have high water content and less sugar, making them a great alternative to satisfy a child’s sweet tooth. If you plan to give your child sweets other than these, it is best to serve them as deserts right after the regular meal. At this point, there is an increased flow of saliva that will help wash away the sugars from the teeth. Also make sure that you give them a beverage, preferably water, right after eating the sweet treats.
A healthy serving of cheese such as cheddar, monterey jack, or swiss can help stimulate the production and flow of saliva in the mouth that, in turn, helps to wash away the food particles that may be stuck on the surfaces of the teeth. Thus, string cheese is a great alternative to snacks with high carbohydrate content.
It is also important never to put your child to sleep with a bottle of milk, or let them sleep without brushing after having a cup of milk. Although many parents make the mistake of thinking that milk is nutritious, it also has a lot of sugar. This sugar bathes the teeth all night, leading to eventual cavities. Brushing after a cup of milk, or simply wiping the surfaces of the teeth with a washcloth for very young children can help prevent baby-bottle decay.
Sticky and chewy foods adhere to the teeth and make it hard for the saliva to wash them away. Caramel candies, honey, molasses, raisins, jellybeans, and other chewy foods cling to the surfaces of the teeth, lengthening the contact of the sugar to the enamel. The long contact with the tooth and the high sugar content will then allow harmful bacteria to grow which leads to tooth decay. Similarly, lollipops, hard candy, or even mints may stimulate tooth decay because they coat the teeth with sugar as they linger longer in the mouth. Make sure to have your children brush their teeth right after eating these kinds of foods.
As parents, your children’s dental health and diet must be one of your primary concerns. Guide them in the right direction for choosing healthy food and introducing alternative snacking and meal options whenever possible. Try to purchase more natural produce instead of artificially sweetened products from the market. Encourage them to drink more water instead of soda or juice. Also try to introduce as many sources of calcium as you can into their diet to help build stronger teeth. These are simple tips that can go along way in ensuring that your child has healthy teeth, free from disease and decay, for the rest of their life.